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Sun Microsystems' attempt to woo developers will see the company downplay its Java Desktop System (JDS) for Linux in favor or Solaris and Sun Ray thin clients.

Sun software executive vice president John Loiacono told The Register Sun is "shifting" its marketing emphasis away from JDS for Linux as a way of "targeting resources".

Marketing will now focus on JDS for Solaris and Sun Rays. "Right now the developer is using a Sun Ray or a Solaris device," Loiacono said, speaking at JavaOne 2005, in San Francisco, California.

Sun's change in strategy is likely to raise eyebrows among some large customers. The China Standard Software Company (CSSC) in 2003 signed-up for 200m copies of the Linux-based desktop for rollout across China's 1.3bn citizens.

At the time, Sun's then software group executive vice president Jonathan Schwartz said China was "opening the market and opening the market's eyes to the idea that an alternative to Microsoft will exist, not simply can exist, but will exist."

A year later, the UK's National Health Service (NHS) purchased licenses for 5,000 copies after and eight-month trial of the Linux desktop. The NHS's National Programme for Information technology (NPfIT) called JDS a viable desktop alternative.

Also, the Allied Irish Bank (AIB) began migrating 7,500 Windows 95 and "older" machines in branch offices in the UK, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to JDS on Linux.

Sun's decision comes as doubts remain over the viability of desktop Linux. Last year, IDC said Linux had 3.2 per cent of the desktop operating system market and would grow to six per cent by 2007. Despite this promise, there remains a fundamental lack of desktop productivity applications for business and consumer users that have helped guarantee success for Microsoft's rival Windows operating system and Office productivity suite.

Those doubts are critical to a company still struggling to increase sales and, therefore, eager to conserve resources. Making Sun feel better is the fact that there is an increased buzz around Solaris, with the launch of Solaris 10, OpenSolaris and IBM's announcement it would put its WebSphere, Rational, Tivoli and DB2 software portfolio on Solaris 10.

Sun is also feeling better about what Schwartz claims are growing numbers of downloads of the NetBeans open source tools framework and integrated development environment (IDE).

"It's a way of targeting our resources. With the re-invigoration of Solaris, ISVs are saying 'you have a platform'. It's open source, you have new tools and NetBeans which is good - that makes it something that's viable," Loiacono said of Sun's decision to change focus.®

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