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Sun Microsystems is to bundle application development tools with its Java Desktop System (JDS), to encourage the construction of Java software for desktops. It is also looking to capitalise on Wal-Mart's online business customer base to sell PCs pre-loaded with JDS, although other retailers might offer a better match.

Sun's Java Studio, for building C/C++, Fortran and Java software, will be offered under a one-year subscription with JDS 2.0, due early next month, followed by Sun's forthcoming Java Studio Creator, for drag-and-drop development in Java, at a later date.

The company is expected to demonstrate JDS 2.0 at the Linux desktop summit in San Diego, California, today. JDS 2.0 also feature Java Desktop Systems Configuration Manager to manage desktop access to networks and other resources.

Attracting application developers

By bundling tools with the desktop runtime, though, Sun hopes it can encourage more application developers to build, test and deploy to JDS. Sun is attempting to turn the desktop into an appealing deployment platform for developers, after the company largely overlooked desktop Java in recent years.

Sun, belatedly, sees the desktop as a volume market that should be targeted by games and other developers, who can help it - in turn - to monetize Java. The company's Java.com web site now includes a JDS page, for customers to download certified Java applications.

Putting Studio with JDS follows February's launch of the SunFire VM20z Opteron server with Studio made available on a three-year subscription of $1,499 per year.

Curtis Sasaki, desktop solutions vice president, said combining Studio and Creator with JDS would help Sun increase the number of corporate and Visual Basic developers building for Java. "There are a lot of developers who want to get everything in the bundle... we will get more desktop developers," said Mr Sasaki.

Enlisting Wal-Mart

Sun is also expected today to promote its deal with Wal-Mart, to sell three types of PC pre-loaded with JDS through the retailers' web site. The company is targeting small and medium sized businesses (SMB), between five and 10 employees, instead of ordinary PC consumers thorough the Wal-Mart deal, according to Mr Sasaki.

The company, though, is aiming at the wrong retailer and should focus more on names like Office Depot, Office Max and Staples to attract a greater volume of SMB business, according to the US president and chief executive of software publisher Avanquest.

Christina Seelye commented: "Most small business people are very convenience driven. They are not buying paper on the Internet. They are going to Staples and Office Max to buy their paper. That's the place to talk to them about new technology."

The best sales channels

She added Sun would also likely reach its target demographic by targeting these retailers' online sales channels, instead of Wal-Mart.com. Sun is targeting Wal-Mart because of a belief the company is destined to become the country's largest supplier of PCs, following a similar volume dominance of music and DVDs.

In targeting retailers like Staples, though, Sun must overcome at least one huge obstacle - Microsoft Corp. Redmond provides retailers with hefty up-front and back-end subsides and reimbursements for activities like promotions that can feature the retailer's brand and also promote Microsoft products. Sun must find the money to provide retailers with similar subsidies and incentive.

This seems unlikely at the moment, though, as Sun is focused on delivery of JDS via Wal-Mart.com and iForce partners.

Source: ComputerWire/Datamonitor

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