Time to put a little SPARC into NT

Quote of the week:
It almost seems like a safe bet today to say that Microsoft will have more influence over how Java develops over the next couple of years than Sun.
-- Tom Steinert-Threlkeld, writing in this week's Interactive Week about Sun.

I agree completely with Tom, and indeed had already composed this email to Sun's Scott McNealy that I'd thought I'd share with you:

Dear Scott:

I was quite taken by your keynote speech at CA World a few weeks ago. It is nice to see a CEO actually practice what he preaches. However, I think your zeal for JavaStations is going to get you into trouble with Mr. Bill once again. I am taking about your "just say no to NT" campaign.

Take a page from the Microsoft playbook, Scott, for a moment: embrace and extend. Why not run NT on your SPARCs? IBM/Motorola went nowhere with PowerPC. DEC will ride Alpha to its grave. And what better place to show that you can do better than the bloated Wintel crew than on your own home turf?

NT and SPARC go together like ham and eggs. I'd like to have the familiar Windows running on the extra horsepower of your processors, and I am sure there are others who would welcome this combination.

Sure, Windows is a pig of an OS, especially when it comes to configuration management, reliable operations, and keeping track of those damn DLLs lurking about under every rock and system folder. But so what? Millions of people are going to continue to use it, and not switch to that Java jive no matter how compelling the reasons. Look what happened to OS/2.

I have no idea how hard it would be to port NT over to SPARC, but it certainly has a better chance of success than trying to oust Microsoft from the desktop. Did you really understand what happened in round 1 of this fight when WABI failed to catch on as an alternative to Windows 3.1?

Does Microsoft have the best technology, the most network-aware solutions, lots of friends in corporate IS shops, or the leanest and meanest applications? Certainly not: they win in spite of these things, because developers get the best care and feeding and write tons of Windoze applications. They win because of their tithe on every Intel machine, enabling them to outspend and outlast you and anyone else on marketing and PR. As Philippe Kahn said in this week's NY Times interview, "Microsoft has won and you have to accept the fact that there are cycles in our industry -- just like life and death." He should know. Look where Borland is today. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Java is a fine effort, and I applaud your use and nurturing of it. However, dishing up Java against NT is a suicide mission. NT is here to stay and can only improve. Indeed, NT makes a fine platform for running Java apps, something Microsoft (and now Tom Steinert-Threlkeld) has been trying to tell you.

Scott, embrace NT and extend the platform. You'll sell a bunch more SPARCs than you do now, and you can be a hero to corporate IS managers that want enterprise horsepower without horsing around with bolting some Pentiums together.


David Strom

By the way, here you can catch McNealy's keynote at CA World via Real Audio.

Site-keeping and self-promotions dep't

For those of you that have long memories, I got my start in the computer trade business over ten years ago at PC Week, and was last seen in their pages as Executive Editor seven years ago, when I left to start up Network Computing magazine for CMP. Well, this week I am happy to report that I am back, appearing in a special network management mid-week supplement. You can read my opinion piece: Net Management via the Web: Another pretty interface?.

David Strom
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