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Sun should give up on the desktop?

Tim Bray: What Sun should do: Sun is going through a lousy spell right now. Well, so is the world’s economy in general and the IT business in particular, but this is about Sun. This is my opinion about what my employer should do about it.

It takes a lot of guts to write a piece like that and I'm really glad Tim did it. I'm going to walk out on the same limb and agree with pretty much everything Tim wrote. Tim wants Sun to focus like a laser on providing the best web platform around with Solaris, storage offerings, Java/Hotspot, Glassfish, MySQL and Netbeans for Java, Ruby, PHP, Groovy, etc. tooling. He writes:

It’s easy to understand how our servers, CMT and x86, and the Solaris OS, fit into the Web Suite. All the software, including the HotSpot, GlassFish, and MySQL runtimes, needs to be obsessively tuned and optimized to run best in the context of the Suite. Obviously, the Suite will also include Ruby and Python and PHP runtimes, similarly tuned.

All of Sun’s software tooling should have a laser focus on usability, performance, and ease of adoption for the Web Suite.

I agree, but as a web geek I guess I'm pretty biased.

Tim doesn't shy away from the critical question of what Sun should stop doing. Tim says Sun should give up on the client-side, dropping JavaFX and JavaME (and OpenOffice too, I presume). Here's Tim on JavaFX:

For actual business apps, the kind that our servers spend most of their time running, the war for the desktop is over and the Web Browser won. I just totally don’t believe that any combination of Flash and Silverlight and JavaFX is going to win it back.

I can't say I disagree with that either. Cutting JavaFX and JavaME would be extremely tough and painful decisions, but somebody's going to make to make some of those. Looking at things from Tim's web-platform-only point of view, they make sense. Sun needs only enough client-side software to keep Solaris attractive to developers and to support great development tools on all the platforms that web developers love.


No - its all about mind share. Thats how MS won in the first place. Suns Desktops plans should aim to break even with shiny cool things to get people interested in the rest of there tec. Apple has how many sales off the ipod? Then how many more with the halo effect from it. Sun pissing off to the dark back rooms will only do more harm than good. Also the comment on the web browser won - well it did because you can add things to it - like flash. I guess Tim has never heard of youtube or any streaming media... because I am pretty sure you would need a plugin for that.

Posted by kangcool on November 25, 2008 at 08:59 PM EST #

To me, Tim Bray IS the thing Sun immediately should give up. He and his speeches gave a lot of damage to Java and Sun.

Posted by aaa on November 26, 2008 at 03:35 AM EST #

When it comes to the desktop, I'll say two words: Trusted Extensions. Show me anyone, who can render data at different protective markings, in different windows on the same general-purpose desktop, in a manner such that the data can't commingle in an unauthorised manner, to an assurance of EAL4 against Common Criteria LSPP, and I'll purchase a hat and eat it. Add the ability to statelessly render that multilevel desktop, to a device which maintains no state and has 1.5 framebuffers-worth of dynamic RAM, with centrally-constrinable USB, and you've got the solution that any organisation which worries about data leakage, should have on every desk. Where technology leads, legislation often follows; trouble is, there's sometimes up to a decade's latency. SNAP's time has come.

Posted by Dave Walker on November 26, 2008 at 09:28 PM EST #

[Trackback] Blogging Roller: Sun should give up on the desktop? Dave Johnson take on Tim Bray's post on "What Sun should do". (tags: sun future tim-bray dave-johnson ) ...

Posted by Wayne Horkan's weblog: eclectic on December 08, 2008 at 01:32 PM EST #

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