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Microsoft, Sun urge patience on joint products

In an update on their collaboration efforts, the two companies say they are making interoperability progress in areas such as Web services, network-based storage and 64-bit computing.

Microsoft and Sun Microsystems Inc. on Wednesday provided a progress report on their eight-month-old collaboration effort, but offered few product specifics.

Microsoft and Sun want products that interoperate. Our engineers are working through details on how it will happen.

John Shewchuk,

Microsoft architect


Executives from both companies emphasized the spirit of cooperation between the formal archrivals. Andrew Layman, director of distributed systems interoperability at Microsoft, said the two organizations have held 15 executive meetings so far, and that their engineers meet each month to discuss technical issues.

High-level officials, including Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and Sun chief technology officer Greg Papadopoulos, have also been meeting with customers they share, in an effort to get feedback.

The two main goals for the relationship are to smooth out Web services specifications, and to ensure that their products interoperate, Papadopoulos said.

64-bit cooperation

In some other areas, progress has already been made, such as in expanding platform support for 64-bit computing, including Microsoft certifying Sun's Advanced Micro Devices-based Opteron servers. Sun's StarOffice and the Java Runtime Environment are also now certified to run on Windows XP Service Pack 2. In identity management, Sun has certified Java Server

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and Java System Access Manager on Windows Server 2003, using Active Directory.

In network-based storage, Sun and Microsoft are also working on driver compatibility for Microsoft's Virtual Disk Service and Volume Shadow Copy Service on Sun's storage arrays, making sure Microsoft APIs are not only supported but certified, Papadopoulos said.

Sun and Microsoft's collaboration also extends to Web services. The two have co-authored several specifications, including WS-Addressing, WS-Eventing, WS-Metadata Exchange and WS-Management.

"As you know, there are currently two incompatible software stacks for Web services -- Liberty Alliance and the WS* Federation," said John Shewchuk, distributed systems architect at Microsoft. "We hear from customers that they want to build systems that work in either direction. Microsoft and Sun want products that interoperate. Our engineers are working through details on how it will happen."

Patent and antitrust issues resolved

Sun and Microsoft agreed in April to a 10-year collaboration agreement that resulted in the settlement of longstanding legal disputes between the two. Sun received $700 million from Microsoft to resolve pending antitrust issues and $900 million to resolve patent issues. The companies agreed to pay royalties for using each other's technologies. Microsoft paid $350 million to Sun, and Sun agreed to pay when it incorporates Microsoft technology into its server products.

Microsoft's Layman said the agreement will produce a range of results, ranging from modest advances to significant work, and he urged patience due to the long-range nature of the agreement.

"Customers were feeling uncomfortable that there was promising technology coalescing -- they might have Microsoft and Sun products, and this tantalizing technology might be out of their grasp," he said. "But you are seeing our companies work together."

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