Sun Microsystems has announced that its Java Desktop System (JDS) will support AMD’s new Athlon 64 processor. Marketing the JDS as “the first viable alternative to Windows in 15 years,” Sun hopes to draw customers with the feel of a familiar desktop environment and a price tag that is significantly less than those of Microsoft’s current operating systems.
“By ruthlessly focusing on compatibility and interoperability, Sun’s Java Desktop System represents the industry’s first alternative to the Microsoft Windows desktop,” said Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president of software at Sun.
While Sun’s software announcement comes on the heels of AMD’s Athlon 64 news, John Fowler, Sun’s chief technology officer of software, acknowledged that the JDS initially will exploit only the Athlon 64’s 32-bit capabilities but that the company will work quickly to scale it up to 64-bit capacity.
The Java Desktop System, based on Linux, includes a full desktop environment, the StarOffice 7 software suite, the latest release of the Java 2 platform, the Gnome windowing environment and the Mozilla browser.
Sun believes both Linux and Solaris will play a strong role in the evolution of the desktop and workstation environment. “With AMD Athlon 64 processor support for the Java Desktop System,” said Schwartz, “we’ll be delivering on our promise to provide a unique, multiplatform solution that reduces cost and complexity.”
Specifically, the Sun Java Desktop will ship with Gnome 2.2 Desktop with some 2.4-based modifications; Mozilla 1.4; Evolution 1.4 e-mail, calendar, address book and task list client; StarOffice 7; and of course Java 2. The company’s StarOffice suite supports native Microsoft Office file formats, and the Evolution e-mail and calendar client offers functionality similar to Microsoft’s Outlook.
“AMD has collaborated with Sun to bring 32- and 64-bit desktop support to the enterprise on AMD64 technology,” said Rich Heye, vice president and general manager of AMD’s Microprocessor Business Unit.
“The Java Desktop System on the AMD Athlon 64 processor will provide enterprise customers [with] performance and scalability in either 32- or 64-bit environments,” said Heye. “[It will] deliver the interoperability between Linux, Solaris and Windows environments — extending our shared customers’ investments.”
The new Athlon 64 processor, which the company designed specifically for high-performance and wireless environments, is both 64-bit capable and 32-bit native. While no major U.S. PC maker is shipping any systems based on the 64-bit platform yet, AMD has said Hewlett-Packard will ship desktops with the chip in the fourth quarter of this year.
Several software vendors, including Microsoft, Red Hat, Oracle and IBM — in addition to Sun — also have agreed to make their software available on the platform. A Microsoft Windows Server 2003 edition with 64-bit extensions is in beta now and is expected to ship early next year.
The minimum hardware configuration for the software is a 266-MHz Pentium II processor, a 4-GB hard disk and 128 MB of RAM. The Java Desktop System will be available in the fourth quarter of this year. When it ships, it will be sold directly from the Sun Software Download Center.
Hardware OEMs can obtain redistribution licenses from the Sun OEM group. List price for the Java Desktop System will be US$100 per desktop or $50 per employee for existing Java Enterprise System customers.
Sun also will be offering a trade-up program for users looking to move away from their existing desktop software. By providing Sun with proof of purchase to their existing desktop environment, users will be able to purchase the Java Desktop System for $50.