relives reveals network computer netbook dream
Tonight I'm going to party like it's 1995...
Larry Ellison has once again demonstrated how he always gets what he wants in the end, by floating the possibility that Oracle could get into the stripped down client PC business.
OK, it looks like he's latching onto the latest greatest thing - telling the JavaOne conference that now Oracle is swallowing Sun, he could well imagine the market welcoming Java-powered netbooks.
In fact, he ventured, "I don't see why some of those devices shouldn't come from Sun. Here will be computers that are based on Java and JavaFX and devices based on Java and JavaFX, not only from Google but also from Sun."
But this will all bring tears of nostalgia to the eyes of anyone who remembers the ground-breaking launch of the network computer, back in 1995.
Back then, when it looked like Wintel was going to dominate the world forever, Ellison and his plucky sidekicks - Scott McNealy and some guy from IBM - took to the stage at Comdex to propose a line of cheap, diskless PCs that would take full advantage of the network or even something called the internet.
Sun's Java would take care of things at the client end, IBM threw in the client hardware expertise and Oracle would do the heavy lifting when it came to software.
By the early part of this decade... not very much had happened. We did meet someone at a party once who worked at Larry's Network Computer division, but they were about to move to a shack in the woods in New Hampshire, as the business was wound down to nothing more than an entry in Oracle's register of trademarks.
Larry, on the other hand, has stayed in Silicon Valley, and is in the process of buying Sun, a Java shop with a hardware business attached. So, now, if Larry wants a network computer, sorry netbook, with a Sun - or Oracle - logo on it, he can have one. Whether anyone else will remains quite another matter. ®
Java is always a problem
it is just not that great a concept or language to code in.
A lot of bad developers like it because it is sort of accessible but takes a long time to develop solution so they get paid over a longer period of time, but it is so dull a language.
The functional languages I think is where the smart money is, there development times are swift, the language is enjoyable, the results are stable and scale.
On the client side, then Python makes a bit of sense, or C with Lua is quite sexy.
Sun was killed by Linux and open source; first the UNIXs will fall.
Re: Previous failure was predictable
"The earlier javastation concept was fatally flawed for one simple reason; compatibility. Businesses use computers to perform processes, and those processes typically involve Word and Excel documents. The Java thin client just couldn't handle that. So businesses didn't want."
I'll only agree with that partially. I saw JavaStations in the wild in businesses which didn't need Word and Excel to run their processes. Indeed, if your business has the capability to develop or acquire decent software for managing processes, Word and Excel are poor choices: they are the equivalent of paper pushing (in its most derogatory sense) for the digital age.
"Now today we have netbooks... and what's happening? Linux is being dropped and replaced with Windows XP. Why? Compatibility! Home users rarely can afford a real machine and a network-access machine; they're buying netbooks as cheap laptops so they can edit their Word and Excel documents on the move!"
I guess you didn't see the survey that said that a lot of netbooks were being bought as second machines, then. And I see yet more projection of the "business laptop" mindset ("that's what I use them for, so that must be what everyone else uses them for, too") when home machines are shipped with the generally incompatible Microsoft Works. At least OpenOffice reads and edits most of the Microsoft Office formats, if compatibility is your thing (and your business, even though we're talking about home users, is not still at the level of paper pushing), but I'm inclined to believe that the "Microsoft-empowered" home user is one of those myths that sits so conveniently that people rarely bother to check its veracity.
And such myths are money in the bank for Bill and Steve, although I'm apparently a "zealot" for saying so. Sheesh!
@AC 03Jun09 18:25
Finger on the pulse.
Larry has a more acute smell of the trail of $$ than Bill Gates...
NC? Javastation? I eval'd SunRay in '98... nice concept, but it needed arrays of Sun 10k tin for a small population of users. And of course needing Oracle db's for everything.
Others are bang on too:
@JohnG - TCO with centralised is higher than distributed.
@Frizzl - opex/network far too high (and is it possible? - Korea maybe, UK no).
@Ian Ferguson - why Oracle when you've got Citrix?
Maybe it's a bit of FUD to disguise what part of Sun he's going to can next.
Smiley because it is always fun to try and second-guess Errol Flynn type COOs.