The two companies also said they will collaborate on making sure their virtualization technologies are interoperable.
The agreement comes on the heels of seven consecutive quarters of x86 server sales by Sun, said John Fowler, executive vice president for Sun systems.
Sun and Microsoft have been working together for some time on the technology side with the former's servers and the latter's operating system, Fowler said. For instance, all Sun's x86 servers are certified for Windows server. The difference now is that Sun will pre-install Windows as an alternative to its own operating systems, he said.
Andy Lees, corporate vice president of server and tool marketing and the Solutions group at Microsoft, said his company is excited to have Sun as a Microsoft Windows Server OEM partner.
"Sun's hardware platform is an excellent platform for the Windows operating system," Lees said. "Having an additional choice of Sun as a hardware manufacturer is good for customers."
Sun will have specific part numbers for ordering servers with Windows, Fowler said.
He also said that Sun has already notified its channel partners of the news. "This was intended to be very channel-friendly," he said.
The agreement between the two companies covers only the Windows operating system, and does not include any Microsoft applications such as Exchange and SQL, Lees said. "Our hardware manufacturers typically sell Windows with their hardware, and applications like SQL and Exchange are added by other channel partners," he said.
In the other news of Wednesday, the two vendors will collaborate on server virtualization.
Sun will ensure that Microsoft's server virtualization technology will work with its Solaris operating system, while Microsoft will work with Sun to ensure Solaris virtualization tools interoperate in a Windows environment, Fowler said. "With the technology agreement, we have the opportunity to extend our technology leadership in this area," he said.
Solaris already has virtualization technology built-in, but Solaris cannot by itself solve all customer issues, Fowler said. And the collaboration between the two is not about competitive issues. "One hundred percent of Sun customers run both Windows and Solaris," he said. "So it's a very natural fit for us to collaborate."