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Sun, Microsoft Pact Viewed As 'Unholy Alliance' Against Linux, IBM

Microsoft and Sun redrew the battle lines in the computing world Friday, with news of a 10-year pact designed to better integrate the leading proprietary Unix and Windows platforms and unifying the rivals against a common enemy--IBM and Linux.

During a brief press conference, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Sun CEO Scott McNealy--megarivals whose companies have battled fiercely in the operating system market for more than 20 years--pledged to make their platforms and respective development tools interoperate.

The wide-ranging pact calls for seamless interoperability between Windows and Solaris Unix operating systems and Java and .Net development platforms. It also ends Sun's aggressive antitrust litigation against Microsoft and transfers $1.6 billion of the $55 billion in Microsoft's war chest to Sun, which has seen its profit margins battered by the growth of Linux on Intel servers.

The two executives alluded to the creation of a framework for the technology collaboration, including joint efforts on Sun's Opteron server plan, but few specifics. Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates and Sun CTO Greg Papadopoulos are hammering out the details of the technology-sharing pact, both companies said.

The complex deal began in earnest roughly a year ago after Ballmer and McNealy, two Detroit natives, high school and college buddies as well as business archrivals, met for a golf game. It was presented simply as a truce instigated by customer demand for interoperability and less rhetoric, but many saw the historic pact as a resounding battle cry against Linux.

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