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Sun Hopes to Shine

Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) finally released the latest version of its Solaris operating system yesterday as part of a quarterly networking jamboree at company headquarters in Santa Clara, California (see Sun Unveils Solaris 10).

Solaris 10, which has swallowed up 3,000 engineering years and $500 million in R&D, is the first major upgrade of the operating system for over two years, and Sun has high hopes for its new baby. So high, in fact, that it is opening up the source code and offering Solaris 10 for free. Well, sort of.

Early next year, Sun will make Solaris 10 available at no charge to customers -- moving away from its existing fee structure and introducing a service-based pricing model. Execs compare the new pricing model to phone calling plans; subscriptions will vary in price depending on the level of support and network computing capacity (see Sun Makes Solaris 10 Free ).

In a clear attempt to win market share from Linux and Windows, Sun is playing on users desire to reduce costs and also prove that its underlying IT systems are delivering real business value.

Dan Kuznetsky, an analyst at IDC, describes Solaris 10 as a significant overhaul of what is considered “a world-class” Unix option: Solaris 9. “Not only are they extending what the operating system does and delivering business resiliency, they are also attempting to address the cost issue,” he says.

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