Sun's Java Desktop System represents the first real alternative to Microsoft on the enterprise desktop, says the company's software business manager Laurie Wong.
Originally code named Project Mad Hatter, the Java Desktop System is an integrated set of open-source applications designed to provide basic functionality for an enterprise user.
"We've taken pieces of software from the open-source community and built an integrated desktop system on top of SuSE Linux," said Wong. "Applications include Mozilla for Web browsing, Evolution for e-mail, and StarOffice for productivity."
Wong said the Java Desktop System, which was announced last week, had a common look and feel and made Linux a production tool for end-users.
"The Java Desktop System is a total Windows XP and Microsoft Office replacement only it is cheaper, more secure, and downtime is significantly less," he said.
"The interface has a common look and feel so retraining costs are not an issue."
When asked why Sun went with SuSE instead of Red Hat for the base Linux distribution, Wong said SuSE was better suited as a desktop and Red Hat was more appropriate as a server.
Sun is offering the Java Desktop System for $190 a year per user, which Wong described as "conservatively, it's a third of the cost of Microsoft".
Sun has also announced the Java Enterprise System server package, originally code named Project Orion.
Effectively replacing disparate middleware systems, it aimed to simplify the integration of infrastructure software, said Sun's regional manager for software solutions manager Keith Garelja.
"In the past, the best-of-breed mentality for infrastructure software has been adopted at great expense in terms of integration and features," he said.
"The Java Enterprise System allows users to install all or any component of the infrastructure layer at a set cost of $175 per user per annum. It is also possible to integrate third-party applications with the suite."
Included in the Java Enterprise System are applications for clustering, identity management, and application serving (formerly SunONE). Although the licensing cost is restricted to a minimum of 100 users, Sun is offering a discounted price on the Java Desktop System of $95 as an add-on to the Java Enterprise System.
"This type of licensing model eliminates the complexity associated with managing disparate licences and changes infrastructure costs from being variable to predictable," he said.
"We have engineered both software stacks as complete systems where all components are integrated."