Sun's McNealy derides govt intervention in Net matters

Government intervention will throw unwanted cold water on the Internet inferno, according to Scott McNealy, chairman, president and CEO of Sun Microsystems.

McNealy warns that government intervention, which could include mandatory universal access to the Internet, will slow the growth of the Internet and Internet-based technologies.

"What we've got to do is grow hard, grow like crazy, and drive this thing through the private sector with as little government intervention as possible," says McNeely. He was speaking during a keynote address at Harvard University's Internet and Society Conference yesterday. "Eventually, hopefully, everybody gets access to this."

McNealy's speech was well-received by the audience. Afterward, however, one African diplomat pointed out that McNealy's anit-intervention message won't apply in developing countries.

"For young countries, the government intervention will be there more than in developed countries," says Anastase Rwegayura, minister plenipotentiary and head of chancery for the Tanzanian embassy. "We need to invest a lot in the telecommunications infrastructure if we are going to succeed in this."

During his speech, McNealy talked up Java, Sun's object-oriented programming language, released nearly a year ago to the day. Recently, all major platform vendors have agreed to embed the Java Virtual Machine in their operating systems, meaning that applications written in Java will be able to run on those systems without recompiling.

"Porting has got to go the way of the punch card," McNealy says.

McNealy also took his customary potshots at Microsoft's Bill Gates, who gives a keynote address here today. Both McNealy and Gates started their undergraduate studies at Harvard, but McNealy, wearing a Harvard tie, pointed out to the audience that only one of them finished.

"I'd like it to be known that I graduated from here, I didn't drop out early," McNealy says. "I'm still trying to make up for that two-and-a-half year head start that Gates got."

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