No timetable for Sun-Microsoft product interoperability

Sun Microsystems Inc. will be "uniquely advantaged" by its interoperability agreement with Microsoft Corp., said Sun CEO Scott McNealy. But when any advantages will become available to users isn't yet clear.

The two companies earlier this month settled their legal disputes, with Microsoft agreeing to pay Sun about US$2 billion. The settlement included a 10-year, bilateral agreement to promote product interoperability.

The question among resellers at Sun's iForce partner conference here this week was when the companies will be able to deliver on those goals.

Scott Zahl, vice president of marketing and vendor relations at GE Access, a value-added distributor for about 800 Sun resellers, said he believes the changes will be evident in product upgrades, such as Solaris 10, which is due by the end of the year.

McNealy acknowledged that there's no guarantee the deal will work out, but he said it's off to a promising start and that he's in ongoing talks with Microsoft. A key objective is making StarOffice, Sun's office productivity suite, "even more interoperable" with Microsoft Office, said McNealy.

Other important goals include improving interoperability between the Java Desktop System and Windows, improving interoperability between Solaris and Windows servers, and bringing the company's respective Web services architectures, .Net and Java Web Services, into closer alignment, said McNealy.

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