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Sun Microsystems The Almighty Buck

Available To The Right Buyer: Sun Microsystems 489

Posted by timothy
from the send-picture-of-boat dept.
antediluvian writes "The Seattle Times reports Sun Microsystems shares surged forward on speculation the computer maker may be bought by a rival company. Prospective buyers could include Dell, IBM or Hewlett-Packard. Computer sales of rival companies have been outpacing sales of Sun's machines. Over the past three years Sun's stock has declined 92 percent."
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Available To The Right Buyer: Sun Microsystems

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  • Sony (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fallacy (302261) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:11AM (#5874129)
    PS3 client and Sun server backend for on-line gaming
  • HPQW? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dubbayu_d_40 (622643) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:19AM (#5874172)
    Sun still makes an assload of money. Just need to reduce operating expenses. I bet HP has the capability to make Sun's hardware more efficiently than Sun.

    Anyone have an idea what kind of steward HP would be for Java?

  • What about MS? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Omkar (618823) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:25AM (#5874199) Homepage Journal
    They've got plenty of [for mods: ill-gotten :)] money, and they've been looking to capture the server market as well.
  • Why NOT Apple. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by standards (461431) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:28AM (#5874214)
    I dunno... does Apple really want to buy Sun?

    Apple would have to capitalize on Sun's strength - the data center.

    In addition, they'd have to save some serious operating $$$. To me, that means heading in the same direction in terms of OS and in terms of CPU architecture.

    I'm not saying it's not doable. But doing so would mean BIG changes to the customers (either of Apple, or of Sun, or both).

    And customers just don't like big change.

    Both companies are leaders in terms of technology, and Jobs is pretty darn good at marketing. He is a good desktop visionary. But can he understand the datacenter?
  • by truthsearch (249536) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:33AM (#5874232) Homepage Journal
    I would prefer to see Sun come out with more Intel-competitive products than stick with their niche. They have the potential to make astounding lower-end hardware, and if they could keep the prices low enough it would be fantastic to have more competition with Intel's lines of chips. AMD is proving to be valuable competition, but I'd also like to see more desktop hardware that doesn't aim for compatibility with Intel.
  • by the uNF cola (657200) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:35AM (#5874244)
    Java.. would at least stick around. Too many financial companies are investing in it. Too many people in general are. Worse comes to worse, someone "buys" java and continnues it, it gets put into the open or the license changes, where it might get perverted..

    Getting rid of java is like getting rid of cobol. It's hard, but it'll take a while :)
  • by Bastian (66383) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:42AM (#5874273)
    For smaller server purposes, 64-bit x86 and Itanium may be a more economical choice.

    But if you need a large memory bandwidth, I think probably still beats out Itanium, and definitely beats x86.

    If you need a whole shitload of CPUs in one box, Sparc is also a better architecture - even if Itanium can scale up to hundreds of processors, there's no OS that runs on it which can properly handle that many.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:42AM (#5874275)
    That 5.5b in the bank is going to be their downfall. Money in the bank get's no premium. So if you want to play a capitalization game, they are really only worth 6.5b. That's not that much in the scope of things. I am sure with the cost of debt being relatively cheap, if someone could find the need for sun to exist, they easily could secure some debt, and use Sun's own cash to buy them. Hell, if they did use Sun's own cash, keeping their own for Suns's cash flow requirements, that would be borrowing almost 50% on the dollar for the value.

    With that in mind, they more than likely are on the block.
  • EDS? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:47AM (#5874290)
    I am surprised no one mentioned EDS. HP and Dell both want very badly to become like the current IBM, who makes a ton of money on both hardware, OS, and services integeration. I think that should discount HP, Dell and IBM because the merger doesn't bring alot of new things to merged company.

    EDS however was the top services company until IBM decided to go into high end consulting and services business. So... it seems an EDS / Sun merger would put them both back in IBM's league. A customer could chose IBM / zOS / db2 / mainframe for a big account or EDS / solaris / oracle / sunfire at a discout.

    It also would be interesting since EDS reportedly uses big Sun servers all over the world...

    just my $0.02.
  • Re:NEWS for nerds? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LinuxXPHybrid (648686) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:48AM (#5874295) Journal
    I cannot conceive of any Sun executive wanting to be acquired by any company. Besides, they can prevent that by buying back their shares, since they still have $5 billion in bank.

    The question was raised in the last event NC03-Q2, and Scott McNealy denied the rumor flat out. I think that he meant what he said and I cannot see how he decides to sell his company to anyone. And again, he and Sun can prevent that from happening.

    I'd think that some investor thought it's a good stock to buy. It is true that they had tough time last year, but I think that two things are true:

    1. Generally, Sun employees like working for the company. Head hunters are generally having tough time recruiting Sun (star) employees.

    2. Customers like their product and service.

    When these two are true, it's a good stock to buy even though they are not making great profit this quarter. I am just speculating, but chances are that someone/some institution figured that it's a good time to buy and they bought good chunk.
  • Re:IBM to buy Java? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wfmcwalter (124904) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:49AM (#5874302) Homepage
    The Sun and IBM java folks are, informally, intertwined in a number of ways:

    The Sun java folks used to (until last year) work from two buildings on DeAnza in Cupertino. At least one of these was an ex-Taligent building, and consequently IBM owned the furniture (I think the lease may also have been some kind of sublease thing). One time IBM wanted all their furniture back, and I believe they flat refused to sell it, forcing each Sun java employee to move out of his office into the corridor, while the facilities dudes came and swapped his desk etc. out for an essentially identical replacement.

    The sun java folks are now confined largely to Sun's Agnew's development centre, built on the site of the county mental hospital. Given that Cupertino was a totally excellent place to work, and Santa Clara most assuredly isn't, I'd guess that if the IBM folks said "we'll buy java, and y'all can come back and work in Cupertino" there would be a lot of happy people.

    One of IBM's largest Java development centres is (waitforit) on DeAnza in Cupertino, right beside the old Sun java building. Both are former Apple buildings, and a bunch of the java folks are ex-apple.

    I wouldn't put too much stead in the "disgruntled employees veto the deal" theory, mentioned above. These days, the average Silicon Valley employee cares about 1) do I get paid ? 2) does my commute get better or worse ? 3) do I get to do something that isn't totally crap ? (the former number 1, "will my stock options make me rich?" no longer figures much).

  • by rakeswell (538134) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:50AM (#5874306) Homepage

    I've read a lot of bitter comments on this forum about the fact that java isn't an open technology. This hasn't mattered much to me because of their community process, and otherwise open attitude, and open off-shoot projects (STL, Struts, Tomcat, etc).

    I'm not trolling here at all -- I wonder what the implications for Java could be in the face of a buyout. Obviously, that would depend in some part on the buyer. And there would always be the GNU foundations [gnu.org] free implementations. OTOH, perhaps a buyout could actually prompt Java to be handed over to a standards board.

    These are rumors though, and I can't recall ever hearing a merger/buyout rumor that actually panned out (maybe I just hear bad gossip, though), so I don't put a lot of beleif into this story. It's just speculation about what Sun might do in an x86's world .

    I will say that it's interesting to me to see how it's usually not the case that the best technologies survive. However, when looked at from a natural selection viewpoint, one realizes that since the computing ecology is shifted towards MS products, the x86 architecure hardware has an advantage, even though it isn't the best.

    Change the OS ecology, and x86 may not be the de facto architecure...

  • This is sad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hackstraw (262471) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:54AM (#5874324)
    I've been thinking that Sun would get bought for a year or so, and I think that it will suck for computing in general. The way I see it, if Sun were to be bought, then their product line would be reduced to their larger machines just like the Proliant servers are pretty much the only thing that survived the Compaq acquisition. This will mean a drastic decrease in the number of people using Solaris, and it will be a nitche/legacy product.

    Solaris is an incredibly mature OS. Just read the manpage for the sar command some day. Also there is Trusted Solaris, and F-C2 security certification, etc. Linux is my favorite OS, but Solaris definitely has my respect for its stability, scalability and maturity. And the number of users of Solaris would decrease dramatically if Sun were acquired. Think about how different the Microsoft userbase would be if they suddenly had no desktop presence and were only servers.

    However, I also think that Sun should hold in there. I mean a 30% drop in sales, thats almost to be expected in todays economic situation. I mean travel is down like 50-70% in some places. Also one has to keep in mind that Sun machines have a longer lifetime on average than say a PC, so thier volume of sales will be lower in comparison.

    Sun does need to get the performance of thier Sparc chips up to the others. Thier performance is a big drawback to the pricetag of a Sun machine. But everything else about thier hardware is top noche. I mean they are so anal with their hardware that they put lot numbers on each of thier ethernet cables. And their machines are just perfectly engineered. Any box that I've been inside of, I never thought "Why the hell did they put that there?".

    But, who knows maybe this will be a good thing. I mean all of their employees will go to work somewhere, and maybe Solaris and NFS sources will be opened up.

    However, if it were up to me, I'd just prefer Sun sticked around for a while.
  • by abhisarda (638576) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:55AM (#5874332) Journal
    IBM has been making use of Java in its Websphere products and if IBM gets hold of Sun, then it can probably give Microsoft something to think about.

    HP would not even bother about Sun right now because it does not want to bite off more than it can chew. Investors would not at all take kindly to the acquistion of Sun by HP. HP right now is trying to fend off the dog that is Dell. HP does have about 13.2 billion $ in hand (Biz Journals [bizjournals.com]) but it will probably not want to mess with it right now.


    Removing Sun from the competition would help the server market by bringing some consolidation.
    What will IBM do with the Sparc chips? It is not likely to dump it for a while but after 2-3 years it may just move to Itanium and its own PowerPc chips.

    Sun has already brought in x86 systems in the lower end. Both Sun and IBM are adopting AMD's Opteron for lower and mid level systems.


    We have also got to remember the FTC. If IBM does bid for Sun then expect them to go through a tough scrutiny so as to avoid a monopoly status in the high end server industry.

    People know that Sun is able to keep customers only by chanting the reliability and customer satisfaction song. Its Ultra Sparc's are falling behind in performance and it is probably only with the Sparc V's that it can gain any semblance of competitiveness. And when are the Sparc V's going to come out? 2005 at the earliest.( News)


    Would Dell bid for Sun? Dell certainly can because it does have quite a bit of cash sitting around 9.1 billion $ as of Dec 2002 (Motley Fool [fool.com] and Yahoo ).

    What is Sun's market capitalisation? As of March 19, it was about 10.73 billion $.


    Dell does not have a foothold in the high end server market because it does not spend much of R & D as opposed to HP, IBM and Sun. Acquistion of Sun could be a easy way to compete with HP and IBM. Dell's entry could help reduce the prices of high end servers like Dell has done to the desktop market.

    If this story is indeed true then it would be the most talked about merger. Competition for customers paying money for big tin has only gotten worse after the tech meltdown.


    Personally I feel that the Sun bid is just a rumor like the Universal/Apple deal. If anyone is to believe it, then Sun or whoever is buying them have to publicly state that they are looking into this deal. Maybe the coming weeks will tell us more.
  • Re:IBM to buy Java? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by durdur (252098) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:56AM (#5874337)
    Sun runs both JavaSoft (a R&D and standards organization, basically) and a software business based on Java technology (they are calling this Sun ONE now). JavaSoft doesn't make them any money, and the Sun ONE stuff isn't getting much traction in the market. So from a pure business point of view, their "Java business" is not very attractive.

    However, right now IBM has to comply with Java standards set by Sun and other vendors in a bunch of technical committees they (IBM) don't control. They would probably like to be in the driver's seat on this instead of Sun.
  • IBM likes Java... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04, 2003 @10:58AM (#5874342)
    I bet it's IBM - they have invested a lot more in Java than Sun has over the past 2 years; and Java fits in with their old strategy of one platform running on several different levels of machine; and IBM also has a history (and the cash) of buying up expensive companies for just one aspect of them.

    I guess we'll see.
  • Who can buy SUN (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Alapan (600026) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @11:17AM (#5874440)
    Off course, the one company that has not been mentioned is Micro$oft - and they have loads of cash floating around. They can easily buy out Sun, and get rid of one of their most vocal opponents.
  • by ChaoticChaos (603248) * <l3sr-v4cf@nOSPaM.spamex.com> on Sunday May 04, 2003 @11:28AM (#5874494)
    The only right fit for Java is IBM.

    Dell is seen as a hardware company.
    HP is seen largely as a hardware company.

    The Apple notion is laughable. Totally. If Apple had control of Java, the only upshot is that you would be able to choose the programmer development environment in several colors. They'd probably put Javadocs on the iPod too. Somehow.

    IBM is seen as an high-end architecure, software, systems, hardware company. IBM would add stature to Java. All of these other companies would drag Java's credibility down.

  • by Dan-DAFC (545776) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @11:38AM (#5874542) Homepage

    Java will not be disappearing any time soon. Too many big name companies (most notably IBM and Oracle) have invested too much money in Java for them to let that happen. Also, with the way that Java is developed, through the Java Community Process, any potential buyer would find it difficult to exert full control over the the technology. For a closed product, Java is pretty open.

    IBM would be the most obvious candidate as Java and particularly open-source Java offerings (such as the Jikes compiler and Eclipse IDE) are a big part of their software activities. They develop their own IDEs and app-servers and ship JVMs for several platforms that have routinely out-performed Sun's equivalent offerings.

    It would also be interesting to see how the SWT vs Swing issue would work out if IBM were to become Java's new guardians. Swing is the Sun graphics toolkit for Java and is the standard for client-side Java. It's fully platform independent and uses pluggable look-and-feels with lightweight components to emulate the look and feel of the native platform. SWT is IBM's alternative that is used in the Eclipse IDE. It's not quite so portable as it provides an abstraction on top of the native windowing system but it has advantages in terms of performance and closer integration with the underlying system. It breaks the write-once-run-anywhere philosophy but is growing in popularity.

    Oracle could be another contender, they too use a lot of Java, particularly for their client-side tools (which it has to be said weren't very good last time I used them) and they partner with Sun on the database/hardware front.

    Apple could be a dark horse, they have a vested interest in Java. In a world where the desktop is dominate by Microsoft, the availability of Java software is a good thing for them as it means there will always be software that runs on Macs. They have put a lot of effort into supporting Java in MacOS X and gone further than other operating systems to help Java applications fit in with the look and feel of the platform.

    A lot of people don't realise just how much Java coding is going on out there, because most of it is hidden away on the server side. This site [tiobe.com] claims that Java is the world's most popular programming language by some distance (though you may argue about the accuracy of their method of measuring these things). I also read elsewhere (can't find a link) that there are more lines of Java being written these days than any other language.

  • Re:PLEASE no HP. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nolife (233813) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @11:58AM (#5874624) Homepage Journal
    I have not noticed much difference since the change over.

    I support hundreds of Compaq business laptops and desktops. I have found that when I call 1-800-OK-Compaq I most likely get an Amercian sounding voice for desktops and something different for laptop support. Recently we had a 3rd level rep from Compaq in our office to do a field change on a few hundred new laptops (Evo N610 laptop with bad grounding if that matters). I asked about the difference between the laptop and desktop support lines, he claimed they all get answered in Texas but the laptop side is mostly staffed by people from India.
    I have not really had bad issues with either side. Since we have so many of the same models, we normally swap parts and return it to the user and then call for service after the fact. We already know what was wrong and what fixed it and we already know what they are going to ask when I call, we just need our swapped parts replaced under the warranty. We very rarely call them for software issues, when we do it is for a driver or bios update that has been identified but not fixed or released yet.

    On a side note.. We were having issues with one of our backup tape libraries. The HP/Compaq rep said before we could go any further we needed to update the firmware. Being a production unit and considering the unit worked for months prior to this we were reluctant but did it anyway. The only noticable difference in the firmware was now the front LCD panel has the "HP" logo instead of "Compaq" logo displayed when it is running. Of course the problems were not fixed..

  • Re:Vastly unlikely (Score:3, Interesting)

    by the gnat (153162) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @12:04PM (#5874652)
    Too bad SGI went from its 64 bits MIPS, and HP from its 64 bits PA-RISC and Alpha (the first one, from Digital), to Intel.

    Correction - although SGI now sells Itanium2 systems, they haven't given up on MIPS by any means. There are still many things possible with their existing architecture that won't be possible with Intel hardware for years to come. Like cramming many CPUs into a box without creating a new solar body. It's a pity that they haven't been able to keep up with other manufacturers in terms of raw horsepower, but they're one of the few companies that still makes an innovative box. God knows PC hardware has been stagnant for the past decade.

    At any rate, the SPARC has for a long time been the least impressive of the 64-bit architectures. Any of the others beats the shit out of it for speed. Sun was just very good at getting the right people to use and support its boxes, and Solaris was generally a very well-made OS. But, ignoring the Mhz issues entirely, they aren't very fast, and some of their machines are far too expensive for what they're actually capable of. (The same goes for Itanium2, from what I've seen.)
  • Really hope it's IBM (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Craig Maloney (1104) * on Sunday May 04, 2003 @12:11PM (#5874689) Homepage
    IBM purchasing Sun would be a big win in my opinion. HP has yet to prove that they really have a handle on the software side of their company, while IBM has done more with Java and Linux than Sun ever did. Of course they might also screw Sun up even more in trying to merge it into the corporate behemoth of IBM.
  • by Offwhite98 (101400) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @12:22PM (#5874744) Homepage
    I work in IT and a while back there was some talk internally that IBM would be taking over Sun. One of their products, Eclipse, is a not so subtle sign that IBM aspired to take the lead with Java. I believe that going forward the only value Sun would have is Java since hardware has improved dramatically for x86/64bit and PowerPC architectures, and the fact that nearly all of the Sun products that I have had to use are always of poor quality.

    By comparison, IBM has done a great job with producing great software and new frameworks. They have also contributed a great deal of software to the Apache/Jakarta and XML projects. They are already the leader in Java technology, Sun just owns the patents and copyrights behind it. IBM needs that to really allow Java to take off.

    If you leave Sun as it is for too long, it will kill Java and .NET will easily take over. I know that IBM will be able to produce the kind of Java technologies we know should have been built years ago, but Sun never got passed suing Microsoft to realize innovation, market share and better products are what matters, not patents and law suits.

    I would like to see Big Blue as the driving force behind Java.
  • Re:Apple... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zeinfeld (263942) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @12:41PM (#5874844) Homepage
    ...should offer to buy them. At a ridiculously low price. Turnabout, being fair play, and all. :-)

    Please no! They might win the auction.

    Apple are in prime spot to displace Sun these days. They are the only UNIX vendor committed to a proprietary UNIX that is likely to still be on offer in ten years time. IBM has already all but said it has thrown in with Linux. HPUX, Digital Unix, Irix etc are already niche market plays.

    I don't think solaris can survive, simply too few seats to be viable except as a niche. It is bound to a single hardware platform which is itself starting to look old and tired with not much hope of fending of Pentium long term, let alone Itanium.

    Apple on the other hand have a really strong desktop business by any measure but Microsoft. They have probably shiped more UNIX systems by now than any other vendor, their kit is robust and mature. Sorry Sun, you never did crack the quality manufacturing thing the way DEC did. So now you charge DEC prices for FIAT reliability.

    The other major problem Sun has is Scott. Unless he is gone by the end of the year Sun is dead. Scott has been spending his time on futile rants about Microsoft who don't even make hardware - his core market while Linux, IBM and now HP eat his lunch.

    I was eating with a senior exec of a major (F100) company who used to be a Sun shop. Scott had gone out to talk to them and his answer to everything was about stopping Microsoft. So the company concluded that they better switch from Sun quick. I then heard the exact same story a couple days later from another F100 company exec.

    The single best thing Jobs did at Apple was bury the animosity with Microsoft. He told Apple that they were going to be something so different from anyone else that what happened at Redmond did not matter. He was right, he realised that the 'Network Computer' that had been developed would flop in that market but had the potential to be a killer entry price machine with a few cosmetic tweaks - and the iMac was born.

    Sorry Scott, but now it is you or the company.

  • by tychoS (200282) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @12:52PM (#5874896)
    Within the last coouple of years it has become possible to run mainframe software using the CICS transaction manager on SUN hardware. There are a lot of large scale applications using CICS running at large companies worldwide eg. at banks. Before this became a possibility, you could only run these applications on IBM mainframes and compatible mainframes, effectively locking the users of these applications into the IBM mainframe platform.

    This area is the last large market segment IBM mainframes has, where they are the only player, so this is a serious threat to the IBM mainframes and therefore to all the services&support contracts, and peripheral systems that comes with IBM mainframe ownership.

    The recent 100+ CPU servers from SUN and compatible Fujitsu machines as well as their mid-range machines with "hot-swap everything", and everything possible done to make software running on them 24x7x365 capable even while the hardware and OS is being upgraded, is another area where SUN is fast becoming a serious threat to the marketshare and market dominance of AS/400 and mainframes from IBM.

    For these reasons alone it would be a very smart move if IBM were to acquire SUN, because it will remove a very serious competitor for from the marketplace.

  • Just a niggle ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sellout (4894) <greg@technomadic.org> on Sunday May 04, 2003 @01:26PM (#5875083) Homepage
    Apple are in prime spot to displace Sun these days. They are the only Unix vendor committed to a proprietary Unix that is likely to still be on offer in ten years time.

    I don't think I'd say Apple has a proprietary UNIX. Their UNIX is open. It's the fourth (5th? 6th? Hard to keep track anymore) OSS BSD. I don't think any closed unices are going to survive. Apple played it smart by locking down as little as possible -- just the part that makes the users drool. Developers are happy because it's all open and available and such, and users are happy because it's a beautiful system where you never have to open Terminal.app.

    I think Apple has some incredibly smart people and they definitely played the OS X thing right. I don't think it would have worked if their Unix was propietary.

    So yeah, other than that niggle (and it is just a niggle), I think your post is right on.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04, 2003 @01:47PM (#5875163)
    After they buy SUN, is make up with Microsoft.

    That is because IBM is run by adults, who dont need to stroke their ego with reactionary applause with their latest Microsoft insult. McNeely's ego has destroyed his company.

    When Microsoft made a better VM for Java than Sun, he should have embraced and extended it. (where did I get that phrase?) Instead, he cried NO-FAIR!!! and went to court. He saw it as an insult, when he could have seen it as a confirmation of Java's potential. He kept his primary technology off of the majority of corporate desktops because he could'nt take it that Microsoft might get some of the credit.

    He should have been fired, and the fact that he wasnt, means that Sun's board is a bunch of idiots.

    IBM is the ultimate in pragmatic operations.

    They will make sure that Java gets back into Windows whatever it takes. You will see REAL Java as a standard language in Visual Studio.NET in exchange for C# in IBM IDE's. They will COMPETE instead of bitch and moan like Sun.

    All this "Microsoft is the devil" bullshit will end. IBM understands that business is fucking BUSINESS. It aint pretty. This might even be the opening for Microsoft to start building a few things for Linux similar to what they do for Apple, only in a way that does not cut into their own sales.

    Sun was run by children who see things only as "US vs. THEM". When IBM takes over, they will bring maturity to Sun's offerings, by not being such babies about it. It will be good for IBM, good for Microsoft, and most importantly it will be good for Corporations.

  • by MisterFancypants (615129) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @02:07PM (#5875236)
    SWT doesn't break write-once-run-anywhere.

    SWT, like Microsoft's old Java libraries, includes things like COM and ActiveX integration -- if you use them, your program obviously will only run on certain systems (Win32). You *can* build pretty portable SWT-based apps, but the ability to make them platform specific is there for you as well.

  • by Glock27 (446276) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @02:22PM (#5875295)
    SWT, like Microsoft's old Java libraries, includes things like COM and ActiveX integration

    Yes, but that simply means it isn't a lowest common denominator approach. This functionality that Swing would have had a tough time exposing.

    Here's the relevant section from the SWT main page:

    -----
    The most succinct description of the Standard Widget Toolkit component is this:

    The SWT component is designed to provide efficient, portable access to the user-interface facilities of the operating systems on which it is implemented.

    "portable"

    implies both that it must be possible to create applications (Eclipse, in particular) which will run on all of the supported operating systems, and that SWT itself must be simple to port to new operating systems.

    The former case is supported by providing a common programming interface. By coding to this API, applications can be created that run everywhere where SWT will run. It is important to note that, because SWT uses the native (i.e. operating system provided) widgets, the look and feel of applications built with SWT will vary on each operating system so that they match the expectations of users of that operating system.

    The later case, the porting of SWT itself, is supported by ensuring that all but the lowest-level, direct interface to the operating system is written in Java. In SWT there truly is "nothing interesting in the C natives", which makes the initial porting (and subsequent debugging) of SWT considerably easier since it can largely be done using the facilities of Eclipse, including the built in remote debugging. In addition, the coding style of SWT is such that it is easy for programmers that are familiar with a particular operating system to understand and implement the code.

    A side-effect of the SWT implementation strategy is that it is relatively simple to create operating system specific extensions to SWT to support particularly important features. An example of this would be ActiveX on Windows, which Eclipse uses (protected by appropriate platform checks) to support embedded ActiveX controls and documents. It was felt that to be competitive on that platform, support for ActiveX was a requirement, even though it was not available elsewhere. Because SWT is "close" to the platform, this was not a difficult task.
    -----

    It is a good thing to leverage the important features of the underlying platform, isn't it? Is Swing really better off re-implementing the entire GUI?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04, 2003 @02:24PM (#5875299)
    The tech industry consolidation cycle is continuing. Intel won the 32 bit war with marketing dollars and superior manufacturing. The 64 bit cycle is becalmed in a fog bank of ennui, although of the major players, Sun which is the most dependent on its own technology has the fewest options.

    Every industry consolidates as it matures, and computers are no exception. At this point, when the real competition in Sun's commercial space is whiteboxes running Linux that cannot be under priced and IBM handholding that cannot be out serviced, the time for Sun to know when to fold 'em has come.

    Sun's value to a buyer is not technology. Nobody needs it. Intel, AMD and IBM will keep the world supplied with 64 bit chips, and software is even more abundant. Its cash is worth just that, not more. And its personnel, well no hard feelings please, but there are a lot of unemployed engineers out there these days.

    Sun's value is its installed base of hardware and its sales force and their customer relations. A rational buyer will sell off or shut down Sun's technology, and use the sales force to migrate the customers over to the buyers products. Without the R&D and the corporate overhead, the deal will be a win even if only a minimal number of customers are retained

    I think that HP is the Company most likely to do this. IBM has too many consent decrees and the PW consulting acquisition pointed the way they wanted to go, which is not hardware oriented. Dell, which is a marketing channel, not a computer company would have to keep too many bits of Sun around to make the deal really pay off. The same goes for Apple.

  • by swordgeek (112599) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @02:34PM (#5875361) Journal
    Correction: Sun is the second most serious threat to IBM dominance. All of the points you make are true, and in fact scaling up to the mainframe (Sun's model) may be a much more viable technological (and even business) model than scaling down from the mainframe (IBM's method). Consider that Solaris on an E15k domain is pretty much the same as Solaris on a Sparc10, which is similar to any other Unix out there. However AIX is neither similar to other Unices, nor much like OS/390. Sun has the potential to do great damage to IBM, if they survive.

    HOWEVER, I still say that Sun is only the SECOND biggest threat. Who then--Microsoft? Nope.

    IBM's biggest danger is IBM. They STILL believe to an unhealthy degree that they're the Only Shop In Town, and that The Market Will Follow Their Lead. They don't yet (!!!!!!) understand that the market has already just about written them off, desktops are commodity items, service in the mid- to high-end range can come from ANYWHERE, and that they'll have to be the BEST offering out there to get anyone's business.

    That said, I still think that IBM is the most likely company to buy Sun. Sadly.
  • by terrapyn (259226) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @03:01PM (#5875630)
    Fujitsu is a world-wide manufacturer of computer systems, including the ownership of Amdahl and the competing products to IBM's mainframes that Amdahl has produced for 30+ years. Fujitsu also produces and markets the the Sparc64-based PrimePower series, which do pretty well from a price-performance point of view viz Sun, and scale to the same levels as Sun's big machines. At this time, however, they have decidedly smaller market share than Sun even in Japan. If Fujitsu sees IBM as the long-term competitor globally, then locking down this front and buying into a readily-compatible customer base might make sense. (Some PR on Fujitsu Sparc roadmap here: http://www.ftsi.fujitsu.com/doc/press-releases/200 30312-001.pdf)

  • by reporter (666905) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @04:00PM (#5876101) Homepage
    The business of Sun Microsystems has 2.5 important components that its competitors might value. First, Sun has Java. Companies like HP, IBM, etc. want to place Java under the control of a standards committee so that no single company controls Java.

    The second component is the high-end server business. The servers are reasonably designed and could give any company like Dell, which does not have a significant server presence, an instant entry into the market. Sun's high-end servers do not have good performance, but that that has nothing to do with its server design. The problem has been the UltraSPARC III, IV, and eventually V.

    The 0.5th component is the perpetual license to the SCO Unix source code. The only company which would benefit from possession of this license is IBM.

    Sun has other components of its business, but they are essentially worthless. First and foremost is the UltraSPARC development team. It basically destroyed the UltraSPARC's future by designing a processor that ranks among the worst in performance for the last 5 years. Further, the disk storage business is going nowhere.

    What is likely to happen is the following. Dell and IBM make a joint bid for Sun. Once they own the company, they will spin off the worthless parts of the business, or, like HP, they will simply fire the nonessential people.

    Then, Dell and IBM will partition Sun's business units. Dell will acquire Sun's server business and will make some minor modifications to the processor boards in the highend servers in order to replace the UltraSPARC chips with Itanium 2's. IBM will acquire the Sun's Java business and will immediately place Java under the control of a standard's committee. Further, IBM will acquire Sun's perpetual license to the SCO Unix source code.

    None of these useful components of Sun's business has any value to Apple. So, Apple would not be a buyer.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04, 2003 @04:13PM (#5876212)
    Sun has been the force behind so many protocols that we take for granted, but they simply don't know how to put together products. Solaris is a great OS, but look at the package. HP-UX just like Solaris uses CDE for its graphical interface, but has an incredible administration tool called SAM. Solaris' Admin tool and others are simply nothing more than crap that could have been coded by any high-school kid. Still, they have had many versions to improve them, but they haven't. With regards to their workstations, again great technology, but have you tried installing an ethernet card in Entreprise 350. Another overvalued piss of crap. Java is simply awesome, but have you used NetBeans? Dude, the idea of an IDE is to make the user's life easier, not harder. Swing is a great example. A graphical API from a company that simply doesn't know how to provide a decent user interface in their products. Lets be honest, Sun's main customer is the Federal government. Who else can afford truck load of overpriced machines? That's not the way to run a company. You cannot depend on one main customer and expect to survive.

    I don't know if the rumor about someone buying Sun is true. but it makes sense. I can only see two people buying Sun: DELL and IBM. If DELL buys Sun they are doom, because unlike IBM or HP their infrastructure is not equiped to handle what Sun has. DELL within 5 years will be gone if it dares to do that. IBM, on the other had, will have a lot easier time incorporating the gains of the acquisition. Unlike DELL, IBM would know how to deal with Java and all of Sun's technologies because they have been using all of them for decades. Plus, they have right away places where to put them. DELL will have to start from scratch moving in so many directions that even years after the acquisition they will still wouldn't know what to do with most of them. Their revenue will simply dry up trying to make real the integration. If anyone can pull it off, it would definitely have to be IBM. IBM would be able to pull it off and make money right away, which is what acquisitions are for after all.
  • Re:You are wrong (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ChaoticChaos (603248) * <l3sr-v4cf@nOSPaM.spamex.com> on Sunday May 04, 2003 @04:27PM (#5876332)
    "Number 1) Java sucks complete ass right now."

    How absolute BAD are the Moderators when a post like this is "Insightful" (which is totally opinion) and the posts defending Java which state fact are offtopic/troll, etc.

    The whole Moderation thing should probably be dropped. This is a total farce.
  • Re:Apple... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by virtual_mps (62997) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @04:32PM (#5876376)
    Sorry, Slashdotters, but this perception that the equivalent Intel box is 10-15% of the price is utterly ludicrous. Have you seen the prices of the 210s, 240s and up?


    Sorry, but how long have those boxes been around? Prior to the arrival of the 210's & 240's (less then a month ago, IIRC) the entry point for sun was the 100/120, which was an underpowered, overpriced heap. The next step up was a 280R, which was way too expensive for someone who just wanted a dual processor rackmount machine (or any machine not based on an obsolete chip like the IIi). The new 210/240's might be a nice system, but I haven't gotten any in-house to look at them yet. I am a little surprised at how weak the included features are (no built-in GBE!) but at least there's now a reasonable price point for an entry-level sun server that's competitive with an intel box. Probably too little too late, though. Maybe if they'd sold these two years ago...
  • by iggymanz (596061) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @05:23PM (#5876748)
    the direction of Sun is what's really important. Less and less market share of hardware, poorly performing architecture on the low and mid range, and their refusal to promote and develop Linux on the high end because of fear it will hurt solaris sales.

    I see no future for Sun now that Linux has gained the high end enterprise system features in the kernel, and the related high end datacenter administration tools are in the works.

    Sun is dying, and Linux is killing it.
  • Java yes! Sun No! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fm6 (162816) on Sunday May 04, 2003 @06:01PM (#5877006) Homepage Journal
    Java will not be disappearing any time soon. Too many big name companies (most notably IBM and Oracle) have invested too much money in Java for them to let that happen. Also, with the way that Java is developed, through the Java Community Process, any potential buyer would find it difficult to exert full control over the the technology. For a closed product, Java is pretty open.
    Sun disappearing would actually be the best thing that could happen to Java. "Community Process" notwithstanding, Sun still thinks of Java as its private property, and almost all Java developments come from Sun employees. And Sun just has no understanding of the software marketplace. The atmosphere at Sun is just too ideological.

    IBM has done far more to popularize Java than Sun. Just look at the Alphaworks web site [ibm.com]. In general, IBM has a better grasp of the software world. The two companies actually have a parallel history. The main difference is that IBM has long since worked through their "we own the world" phase. If IBM were to buy Sun, things would get very interesting.

    One thing: last time I interviewed at Apple (97) they were planning to replace Objective C with Java as the main system language. The object models are close enough, and there are a lot more Java programmers. Still hasn't happened. Ideology again?

  • Re:Apple (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04, 2003 @08:24PM (#5877795)
    Apple has that reputation in the buisness world because of you TechTV/CompUSA/A+ Certified Wintel losers who always spew bullshit about one-button mice and the glory of the old-ass x86 archeSHITure.
  • Re:Java yes! Sun No! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fm6 (162816) on Monday May 05, 2003 @12:48AM (#5878863) Homepage Journal
    None of these guys are insane. It's just that they've long since fired anybody with the guts to tell them that their shit doesn't smell. But yeah, their biggest enemies are their own egos. Same goes for that guy you mention in your sig.
  • Re:Apple... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by virtual_mps (62997) on Monday May 05, 2003 @07:07AM (#5880057)
    Fair enough, but you can't blame Sun for being expensive, then criticise when low cost machines come in.


    Sure I can. The new machines are attractive, but we've already jettisoned most of our suns--so the question isn't whether the new machines are nice, but whether they're nice enough to justify another platform change. The answer to that question is, "probably not". I still would like to get some and give them a chance, but it will be a hard sell to get me to tie myself back to sun at this point.

    Also, the 280R's also never been 10 times the price of an Intel equivalent. Equally, there's no Intel box with the equivalent internal bandwidth or 64 bit capability which'll run your enterprise app quite as well.


    I'm not sure I used the figure 10x, but the 280R is certainly a lot more than the entry level price for an x86 dual-processor system. Also remember that the V100/120 have a IIi processor, which made the 280R the real entry point for any sort of cpu-intensive application in sun's rackmount lineup. So for a cpu app you had a choice between a $1k or $2k intel rackmount or a 280R...

    And the intel box would probably be a 1u, which is much nicer from a rack density standpoint compared to the 4u 280R. (The 280R takes a lot of space for what it's doing.) Can the 280R do some things a 1u intel box can't do? Sure--but the number of apps that need those feature is fairly limited. (If there were more demand for those features I'd have more 280R's, sun would be making more money than dell, and sun wouldn't have introduced the much smaller and better priced 210's and 240's.) Even from a capability standpoint there were some nutty things about the 280R that made it somewhat less attractive than it might have been. (Single 100Mbps ethernet, only 40MB/s SCSI included, only one pci slot running at more than 33MHZ, and that only at 66MHz, only 2 internal disk drives--in a 4u box!)

    The 210s and 240s have great features - each actually has 4 built in Gb ethernet ports!


    I stand corrected. I could have sworn the last datasheet only had 10/100 listed, but I might have been thinking of a different line.

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