Sun Microsystems president and CEO Scott McNealy was in prime form as he delivered the final keynote address at CA World, slinging barbs at Microsoft, but also offering a short-wish list of where he wants Java to go.
After showing a video in which he demonstrated his own Webtop software environment consisting of SunSoft HotViews software on a JavaStation, McNealy briefly talked about what he wants to see on his desktop.
"There are a few things I don't like about the current environment," said McNealy. "I can turn my [machine] off and trash my applications. I have to get them all back in the morning," he said.
"In the future version, we're going to have 'lock screens' ... so the applications can just stay there all night. Just turn off the CRT and leave the JavaStation on," McNealy said. In this scenario, software on the desktop machine can be updated during the night, he said, though he offered no details of these new capabilities, nor did he give a timetable for release.
McNealy also said one of the tasks lying immediately ahead for Sun is to get Java-based application environments performing faster. Right now, Java-based applications run slower than those written in C++, he said. JavaSoft's HotSpot Java software, due in the fourth quarter, will offer performance improvements derived from compiler technology and should help get Java applications running even faster than software based on C++, said McNealy.
McNealy also noted that forthcoming suites from Corel and Lotus. will round out the applications available on Java.
It came as no surprise that the head of Sun focused on Java, nor that his speech was peppered with anti-Microsoft quips. McNealy said there can be no confusion stemming from different flavors of Java.
"Everyone says Microsoft's going to mess up 'write once, run everwhere' - they're not," said McNealy. "If I have a cup of coffee and I add three drops of poison to that cup of Java, what do I have? Windows."
He added: "Either you have Java or Windows - you can't bifurcate [Java]."
Addressing an audience composed of database administrators, programmers and network managers, McNealy cited figures for the cost of ownership of a JavaStation compared to that of workstations and PCs laden with applications and peripherals.
"We think the total cost of ownership of going to JavaStations is about [US]$2,000 per year, versus the current $7,000 a year we're facing with fat-client ... Sparc Solaris desktops," said McNealy. "And you all are facing about an $11,000 to $29,000 a year hit to manage your PCs."
Noting that many of the systems managers here are facing budget cuts, McNealy exhorted them not to upgrade Windows machines: "Don't do it - just freeze. Instead of upgrading, 'side-grade' your PCs - side-grade them with a Java browser."
Corporate developers can write applications from this point forward in Java, McNealy said. "They will run fast, with no memory leaks, and ... have better protection from viruses."
Though most of McNealy's speech was old news to many in the audience, some attendees said they worked mainly in the mainframe environment and learned something from the keynote.
"I work installing mainframe software, so all of this was new to me," said Pat Leonard, a technical support specialist with the State of Arizona department of administration in Phoenix. "It's good for me to hear this because the mainframe world and the PC world are being combined, and I need to learn about this technology."
Another attendee said he is glad the industry has an alternative to Microsoft on the desktop.
"There was a lot of joking against Microsoft, but I'm happy to have new technology that succeeds besides Microsoft," said Gustavo Gonzalez, director of Integra, a software distributor in Asuncion, Paraguay. "Otherwise we would have a monopoly, which we don't want."