Sun Inks Deal To Distribute Java Desktop System in China

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Sun Microsystems Inc. has scored a deal with a Chinese technology consortium to distribute its Java Desktop System to citizens of China, the company said Monday.

The China Standard Software Company (CSSC) has selected Sun as its preferred technology partner to help provide a nationwide standard desktop software system to China's 1.3 billion citizens, according to Sun.

The CSSC is a consortium government-supported IT companies formed to deliver a standard Linux-based desktop system for China.

The CSSC and Sun Microsystems technology licensing agreement will allow CSSC to deliver its own branded desktop system using the Java Desktop System as the foundation for its desktop standards, subject to export approval from the U.S. government, according to Sun.

The Chinese government plans to ultimately install at least 200 million copies of a non-Windows desktop solution throughout the country.

The multiyear agreement with Sun is scheduled to start at the end of 2003 with the installation of approximately 500,000 to 1 million seats per year.

In September, China, Japan and South Korea decided to seek an alternative to Windows as a standard desktop system for their citizens. Chinese programmers already had developed a homegrown Linux version called Red Flag Linux a few years ago, software China has promoted as a secure alternative to Windows.

Sun's deal with China comes only days after Sun's Executive Vice President of Software Jonathan Schwartz said Sun was seeking per-citizen licensing as a way to offer its Java Desktop System to a host of countries outside the United States.

Schwartz admitted that Sun is marketing the desktop outside of the United States because interest in the suite in North America where Microsoft's Windows OS has been dominant. He also said Sun hopes to help countries whose citizens do not have broad access to PCs bridge the "digital divide" through inexpensive or free access to the Java Desktop System.

Sun's Java Desktop System is a Windows-like operating system based on Linux and consisting of open-source technologies such as the Mozilla browser, Evolution mail client and GNOME GUI.

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