IBM's Thompson nixes reports of Unix effort with Sun

If IBM and Sun Microsystems are working together on a next-generation Unix platform, then someone forgot to clue in John M. Thompson, an IBM senior vice president and group manager for software. During a press briefing at IBM's Technical Interchange developer's conference on Thursday, Thompson said that he read published reports about the purported collaboration on Monday and that he believes they might have arisen from recent announcements that IBM and Sun are collaborating on a client Java operating system.

If IBM and Sun Microsystems are working together on a next-generation Unix platform, then someone forgot to clue in John M. Thompson, an IBM senior vice president and group manager for software.

During a press briefing at IBM's Technical Interchange developer's conference on Thursday, Thompson said that he read published reports about the purported collaboration on Monday and that he believes they might have arisen from recent announcements that IBM and Sun are collaborating on a client Java operating system.

"It was news to me," he said of the Unix reports. "We work very closely with Sun on Java. ... Someone speculating that we're building a common (Unix) OS was news to me."

Thompson seemed truly puzzled by the reports, which first appeared in the trade press and then were picked up by the Dow Jones News Service, an affiliate of the Wall Street Journal.

That rumor apparently laid to rest, Thompson fielded a question about another. For months, IBM has been mentioned as a leading contender to buy financially ailing Netscape Communications. When the topic was broached, Thompson laughed, said he would not speculate on potential major acquisitions and then sidestepped the matter.

"Our relationship with Netscape is like our relationship with all software companies," Thompson said. It is two-sided, he said, in that IBM works with Netscape in areas such as standards but that the two compete head to head in areas where IBM has a similar product, such as Lotus Domino.

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