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May  1998
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Sun signs pact to push Java in Singapore

Singapore (May 26, 1998) -- Sun Microsystems Inc. has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Singapore government's National Computer Board (NCB) and research institution Kent Ridge Digital Labs (KRDL) to help position the country as a regional center for developing Java-based applications.

The agreement extends a collaboration between Sun and NCB, which began with the setting-up of a Java Competency Center in September 1996. This second phase will see the use of Java in actual pilot applications for the government computing sector, NCB said.

The NCB oversees the country's strategic information technology policy.

According to NCB chief executive Stephen Yeo, Java is fast emerging as a key technology on Asia's IT map.

"Java has evolved from being an Internet tool, to a platform for developing large-scale enterprise systems, and is now moving into operating systems for consumer devices," Yeo said. "It is therefore crucial to create the necessary tools to equip our IT companies with Java technology."

Under the plan, the existing Java Competency Center currently housed in KRDL will be expanded into a resource center for Java technology. The resource center will support the local IT industry to adopt Java technologies, and help local companies to develop and export innovative Java-enabled IT products and services.

A venture fund will be set up to encourage Java-based research, and Java programming courses will be added to the IT curriculum in schools and universities. To showcase the potential of Java competency, the NCB and Sun will jointly identify and initiate Java pilot projects in Singapore's civil service.

--David Legard, IDG News Service

Sun, TCI expand deal for Java, set-top box

San Francisco (May 6, 1998) -- Sun Microsystems Inc. and Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI) announced an expansion of a January agreement under which TCI will incorporate Sun's Java programming environment into millions of its advanced television set-top boxes due out next year.

Under today's agreement, Sun's Java will now become the applications programming environment in all of TCI's advanced set-top boxes, not just some of them, as originally planned. Next year TCI plans to roll out the devices to all of its installed base, which now includes 25 million households and 18 million subscribers, a TCI official said.

As part of the deal announced at the National Cable TV Association (NCTA) Conference in Atlanta today Sun has agreed to port its PersonalJava environment to Microsoft Corp.'s Windows CE operating system. TCI also has selected Windows CE as one of several operating systems its new set-top boxes will support, said David Beddow, Senior Vice President of TCI's National Digital Television Center (NDTC).

Asked whether TCI gave a larger contract to Sun or to Microsoft, which yesterday closed a deal with TCI for including Windows CE in the set-top boxes, Beddow said he wouldn't play a numbers game.

"Sun, Microsoft and the other operating system vendors have to perform," Beddow said. "So I would say destiny is in their hands."

TCI also obtained the option to license Sun's JavaOS for Consumers operating system, due out in the first half of 1999. In addition, TCI will support Sun's JavaTV Application Programming Interface (API), Sun executives said today.

Sun will collect an undisclosed licensing fee from TCI for each set-top box, officials said.

TCI wants to make sure that applications written for its devices are written to the Java API and not directly to any of the operating systems included with the set-top box, unless there is a specific reason, such as a latency issue, which requires an application to be directly tied to a particular operating system, Beddow said.

"IP telephony for example is one application that may be written to the OS," Beddow said in a conference call today. "We define the unit, and we want to make the decision on what it will include and how applications are written to it," he said.

Sun's Chairman, CEO, and President, Scott McNealy, said that TCI will give applications developers a huge consumer platform for which to write software, with Java providing the main API and a "write once run anywhere" setting.

Sun, which is embroiled in a legal battle over the use of Sun's steaming coffee cup Java compatibility logo on Microsoft products, will itself port Java to Windows CE to make sure it works, McNealy said.

"Between ourselves and Microsoft we are the more reliable partner," McNealy said. "It (the port) will pass the compatibility test and proudly wear the Java logo."

Sun is aggressively pursuing similar licensing agreements with cable TV and satellite TV operators outside of the U.S., making it likely that in the short term -- six months to a year from today -- the company will announce agreements with partners oversees, Curtis Sasaki, group manager for consumer and embedded Java technologies at Sun, told the IDG News Service today. He declined to elaborate.

--Torsten Busse, IDG News Service


IBM, Sun partner on decision support

San Francisco (April 29, 1998) -- Expanding on their partnership, IBM and Sun this week detailed an upcoming hardware-software bundle for decision-support applications, featuring IBM database software and Sun hardware.

Due by June of this year, the bundle with feature the IBM DB2 Universal Database Enterprise Edition, a Sun E450 Sparc server and the SpaceSQL Java-based query and reporting tool from Infospace. Pricing has not yet been determined.

The bundle is part of a new initiative by Sun and IBM to spread the use of DB2 for decision-support applications on Sun hardware, according to IBM. Other new developments Wednesday include beta releases of IBM's DB2 OLAP Server, which is a decision-support analysis engine, and IBM Intelligent Miner data-mining software on Sun's Solaris operating environment. General releases are expected in three to six months.

A user of DB2 on Solaris applauded the company's alliance. "As a Universal Database customer on Solaris, the question was IBM's commitment," said Kristopher Nybakken, vice president of technology at Sapient Health Network, in Portland, Oregon. "This gives me a lot of confidence."

The two companies in April announced plans for a new operating system called Java OS for Business, which will be tailored to electronic commerce.

Reseller Merisel will sell the IBM-Sun bundle.

--Paul Krill is a correspondent with InfoWorld Electric, a SunWorld affiliate


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