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April  1997
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Sun to open new Santa Clara campus

San Francisco (April 23, 1997) -- Calling it the third stage of a "three-pronged expansion initiative," Sun Microsystems has acquired 82.5 acres of land in Santa Clara from the State of California. If the deal goes through as expected this September, Sun will pay $51 million for the abandoned west campus of Santa Clara's Agnews Developmental Center. Apparently the Agnews Center, which was the first public mental hospital west of the Mississippi, was selected for its campus-like look and feel as well as its proximity to Silicon Valley.

Keeping four of the better-preserved buildings intact, Sun plans to add a total of 500,000 square feet of new space. The entire campus should house about 3,600 workers.

Sun isn't saying what business units it intends to house in Santa Clara or when it will begin construction.

The other "prongs" of Sun's expansion initiative are to be situated in Burlington, MA, where Sun hopes to accommodate 4,000 worker bees on property purchased from Lockheed Martin Corporation, and in Broomfield, CO's Interlocken Business Park.

--Robert McMillan

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Comdex U.K.: Sun praises Java, users hold back

London (April 22, 1997) -- Sun Microsystems Inc. may be touting thin clients running Java applications as the cure-all for corporate computing blues, but many users here today admitted their companies were years away from implementing Java applications on a large scale -- and from using network computers at all.

In a keynote session this morning, Sun U.K. vice president Robert Youngjohns said that Sun's vision of the future comes down to "big servers, big pipes and thin clients." Of course it doesn't hurt that Sun stands to make masses of money from Java, which will be the cornerstone of such a networked world.

Corporations need to "stop thinking about applications having to reside on a client" and instead begin building Java-based ones that can live and run on the server, he said.

However, IS managers faced with tossing aside a large base of Windows-based PCs and older mainframe systems in order to rebuild networks around "thin clients" and "big servers" running Java applications were less enthused with Sun's vision.

"I think NCs will flop," said an IS manager for a London-based construction company who asked not to be named. His company, which has 60 PC users on a recently-upgraded Windows NT network, has only begun to think about implementing Java applications and isn't planning to use thin clients at all, he said.

"Java is still just coffee to us," joked an IS manager for the U.K. branch of the Inter-Continental Hotels and Resorts. Most of the corporate networks he manages in hotels throughout the U.K., the Netherlands, and Belgium deploy a combination of Windows, legacy, and DOS applications. Using Java-based applications hasn't really crossed his mind, he said.

However, Inter-Continental is well-aware of the benefits of thin clients. It has launched two set-top box trials which will allow visitors to surf the Web via in-room television sets. But plans to deploy NCs on a corporate or reservation-taking level are non-existent at this point, the spokesman said.

The thought of purchasing all new applications written in Java, or building them in-house, seemed illogical and expensive to most of the users interviewed.

"We're probably a bit behind the times," said the IS manager at the construction company, "but migrating all of our desktop applications to Java in order to use NCs is something we'd probably never do." In addition, there aren't enough applications available today in Java, he said.

A purchasing advisor for the U.K. Inland Revenue department who asked not to be named acknowledged that NCs could save the government agency a lot of money in the long run, but didn't see how such devices could interact with existing legacy systems.

"We're looking at reducing costs, but continuing service [as taxpayers know it] is our most important goal," he said. In order to purchase, support and manage the installation of thousands of NCs -- which would need to work seamlessly with legacy systems -- the Inland Revenue department would need to employ an outsourcer at a very large cost, he said. In the end, he wasn't sure if deploying NCs would save much money. Plus, the 50,000 employees of the agency already know how to use their PCs running a customized client, he said.

So while Youngjohns said that Java-based applications and NCs may allow IS managers to "manage complexity where it is most viable" (i.e. on the server), they remain reluctant to take on the task.

--Kristi Essick, IDG News Service, London Bureau

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Sun the "software company" posts over $2 billion in Q3 revenue

San Francisco (April 21, 1997) -- It may come as a surprise to Ed Zander, but his boss, CEO Scott McNealy, says that Sun Microsystems is really "a software company" that ships DRAM and some other products. The comments came at a press pow-wow last week, where Sun seemed to be trying to change the image of its SunSoft business unit from the place where Sun's Unix is made into the more press-friendly, home of "the WebTone" (i.e. the Web's dial tone -- for more, see our news story "Sun goes public with new Security Products Group.") With all the press that its sister planet, JavaSoft has been getting, the spin-meistering is understandable.

Sun took advantage of the press event to report its quarterly earnings. Though it won't break out how much of the revenue came from hardware, McNealy's "software company" reported revenues of $2.115 billion in its third fiscal quarter, which ended last month, posting a pre-tax profit of $329 million.

IDC analyst Jean Bozman says that much of Sun's growth is coming from its booming server business. Though IDC's figures are preliminary, she says, "It looks like 1996 was a year in which the server business pretty much caught up to the workstation business in terms of revenues for Sun." She estimates that Sun will do close to $3 billion in servers for 1996 -- up from $1.8 billion in 1995.

For a software company, Sun's margins don't seem to be quite as high as its chief rival. Last week, Microsoft reported earnings just over $1 billion on revenues of $3.2 billion.

--Robert McMillan

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@Home gets investment from Sun, Motorola

Boston (April 17, 1997) -- @Home Network today announced the conclusion of a $48 million private placement of preferred stock with technology and cable companies to expand its high-speed Internet services to homes and businesses.

Currently, through agreements with seven cable companies, privately-held @Home Network offers cable-based Internet access to homes, according to Matt Wolfrom, an @Home Network spokesman. The company also offers businesses Internet access via cable or traditional phone lines through agreement with Teleport Communications Corp., he said.

The new investments, which represent approximately 4.5 percent of @Home Network, have been made by Bay Networks Inc., Motorola Inc., Rogers Cablesystems, Shaw Communications Inc., Sun Microsystems Computer Corp., and others, @Home Network officials said.

The investments will fund @Home Networks' expansion into markets in Northern California, Los Angeles, New York, and Boston, officials said. The company already offers services in parts of Illinois, Connecticut, California, Florida, and New Jersey, officials said.

In addition to its expanding U.S. presence, last week @Home Network announced its entry into the Canadian home market with partnerships with Rogers Cable Systems Ltd. and Shaw Communications, Canada's two largest cable operators, according to Wolfrom. Rogers and Shaw represent about 5 million households, which is 50 percent of the Canadian cable market, he said.

--Rebecca Sykes, IDG News Service, Boston Bureau

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News from JavaOne

San Francisco (April 2, 1997) -- JavaOne is where it's at. There's no escaping it; even San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown is in on the act, proclaiming the week of March 31 to April 6 "Java Week." Well, at least it sounds better than "Software Developers Week."

JavaSoft will today announce its Java Platform for the Enterprise, designed to integrate Java into database applications. Central to this will be Java components for business applications, called Enterprise JavaBeans, which Sun says will provide a "rich object-oriented transactional environment" for enterprise-level applications. The Java Platform will also include various APIs, including Java database connectivity, Java Naming and Directory Interface, Java Transaction Service, Java Management, and Java Interface Definition Language.

Sun will also announce plans to develop a Java Message Service API that will eventually be included in the Java Platform.

Also expected at JavaOne:

--Robert McMillan

For comprehensive daily coverage of the JavaOne show, go to the JavaOne Today site with reports provided by our sister publication, JavaWorld, at

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JavaStudio sees the light

San Francisco (April 1, 1997) -- SunSoft Inc. will launch the beta versions of its JavaStudio and JavaStudio Professional application development tool kits at the JavaOne conference here this week, officials said. SunSoft will also make available an early access release of Java WorkShop 2.0, which will support the version 1.1 of the Java Development Kit.

JavaStudio, which was code-named ProjectStudio, is a JavaBeans development tool that enables people who lack programming skills to build applications using drag and drop methods, according to officials.

"Even with application development tools like Delphi you need to write code," said Joe Keller, director of marketing and support for WorkShop products at SunSoft. "What JavaStudio brings to applications development is the ability to program without writing a single line of code."

JavaStudio includes VisualJava, an environment for visually connecting software components such as animations and buttons, according to Keller. SunSoft will also include the ability to build these applications in an HTML environment, he said.

JavaStudio Professional will include both the JavaStudio and Java WorkShop 2.0 development environments and will be targeted at power users, according to Keller.

Meanwhile, JavaStudio will give users step-by-step instructions on how to build World Wide Web pages and intranet and custom applications. It will also contain over 75 of JavaBeans components, developed both in-house and by third parties. GUI control, database, multimedia, and sorting components are all planned.

Pricing for JavaStudio and Java WorkShop Professional was not available. Early access versions of both products are expected in June.

--Niall McKay, IDG News Service, San Francisco Bureau with additional reporting by Robert McMillan

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