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'What do we stand for now?' ask Sun staff

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Letters Sun Microsystems made peace with Microsoft last week. But if Sun doesn't stand for not being Microsoft, then what does it stand for?

"As a nine-year Sun veteran, I need to thank you for putting my thoughts and feelings into words," writes one reader. "Since Thursday I have been wrestling with why this whole thing has my gut in knots. It wasn't the Scott & Steve Handshake, It wasn't that we didn't get enough money. It wasn't even that we never got MSFT to admit to wrong doing."

"It was exactly what you said 'What does Sun Stand for????'. I used to know. I used to follow Scott blindly because he told us every day that we were doing necessary work. We were gonna keep the world safe for innovation. I believed in Scott. I believed in a guy who made no excuses for doing things different. I believed in a guy who lead us even though he didn't need the money."

But it wasn't typical of sentiments this week. Defining yourself as being against something isn't very healthy.

Sun Labs veteran Geoff Arnold writes: " I'm sure that psychologists have a term (and a DSM IV category) for people who define themselves by what they are against rather than what they are for, by who they are not rather than who they are. Anyway, it became an institutionalized thing, much like the Red Sox and the Yankees, or Glasgow Celtics and Glasgow Rangers."

Long-time Sun watcher and financial analyst Mark Stahlmann offered us this yesterday.

"There's room for a Green Team that isn't the Red Team, Microsoft and Intel, or the Blue Team, IBM. Sun can be an independent power supply for service providers. It's ground zero now. These pieces must interact in a secure and reliable fashion."

Security and reliability are two qualities the Red Team doesn't do very well. And in terms of security, Red's best is getting worse: it almost seems cute now that people used to mention Windows NT in the same breath as VMS. This doesn't happen very often nowadays.

"I remember the anguish when Andy Becholsteim [Sun co-founder who recently rejoined] introduced SPARC, and a $15,000 computer could do what a $50,000 computer did. Sun is doing this again," says Stahlmann.

So perhaps McNealy doesn't need to change the tune very drastically. The biggest orthodoxy that he'll need to challenge is that customers will pay for quality. ®

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