When you saw the headline -- Sun Settles With Microsoft -- did you figure, like I did, that somebody launched an April Fool's joke a day late?
The settlement, announced today, is almost as hard to believe as this week's cover of Sports Illustrated, which proclaims: "Hell Freezes Over -- The Cubs Will Win the World Series." As a longtime Cub fan and a longtime follower of the industry, I'm not sure which headline generates more disbelief.
For Sun, making such a deal was as close to a no-brainer as it comes. Sun has been fighting Microsoft for so long -- both in real legal courts and in numerous snide remarks at industry events -- that it's hard to remember anymore exactly what their beef is. Back when Sun actually innovated and brought out products people wanted to buy, the tiff made more sense.
But lately, Sun's jibes had the taste of grapes getting more sour with each passing moment, given the company's poor financial showings. Maybe now, Sun will concentrate more on its Java desktop products and finally bring out a real alternative to Windows and Office, the bug-filled, security-poor programs we all use mostly because we have to, not because we want to. Like Cub fans, we can wish for that to happen, even while in our heads, we know that the Yankees -- excuse me, Microsoft -- will probably stomp everyone in the end.
But there's always hope. In Chicago, there's a hot dog stand that has a sign painted on one wall with a Cubs logo and the words, "If it takes forever." With $2 billion of Microsoft's money, Sun just bought itself a little more time to see if it, too, can win the pennant. Play ball.