May 13, 2005 3:26 PM PDT
Sun, Microsoft tout fruits of cooperation
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patents and share technology. Microsoft paid Sun a further $54 million this year to extend the patent agreement.
But the payments now are traveling the other direction, McNealy said at Friday's news conference. "It is a two-way street," he said, though he and Ballmer refused to disclose how much Sun has paid.
Sun has licensed Microsoft's Remote Display Protocol, McNealy said. The move, combined with Sun's planned acquisition of Tarantella software, lets customers use Sun Ray thin clients, remote PCs or even Java-enabled automobile computers to control centrally run Windows software.
Sun also has paid Microsoft to improve its software for sharing files over Windows networks. Sun ships the open-source Samba software for that task today, but it also is getting a new implementation through its planned acquisition of Procom storage technology assets, Sun Chief Technology Officer Greg Papadopoulos said in an interview.
Single sign-on specs
The authentication process is a basic, but flawed, part of network use. One person who'd like to see that change is Fred Killeen, chief technology officer of General Motors. His servers run directory software from both Sun and Microsoft to store usernames and passwords for more than a million people--employees, retirees, suppliers, auto dealers and others--in 190 countries.
Killeen has begun a pilot project with Sun and Microsoft to let the directories work together, unifying the sign-on process for GM's Windows-based desktop authentication and a Sun-based portal site called Socrates.
"It will take out a significant amount of complexity from our IT environment. It will mean fewer passwords and fewer calls to our help desk," Killeen said.
Sun and Microsoft previously advocated separate, incompatible technology for the process--Sun's choice of the name Liberty for its specification was a jab at Microsoft's rival Passport service. Microsoft largely scrapped Passport as a centralized authentication site for a different--but still incompatible--approach called Web Services Federation.
The companies were not polite about their competition in 2001. McNealy derided Passport as a way for Microsoft to collect information about computer users and then charge them for the privilege of being a gatekeeper. Ballmer said Liberty has "zero probability of mattering to the world."
Now the companies are moving on. They proposed two specifications, the Single Sign-on Metadata Exchange Protocol and the Web Single Sign-On Interoperability Profile, that make single sign-on possible with Web browsers tapping into either Liberty or WS-Federation systems.
The partnership brings Sun into closer agreement with several other companies developing so-called Web services standards that govern sophisticated business transactions on the Internet. "This is not just Sun-Microsoft," Willett said. "This is Sun-Microsoft-IBM-BEA Systems."
The companies haven't yet chosen what standards body they'll use to try to standardize the technology, McNealy said.
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