April 5, 2004 9:30 AM PDT

Sun names new software chief

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Sun Microsystems software executive John Loiacono will become the company's new software chief, while another executive and longtime Microsoft adversary, Rich Green, will be leaving the company.

The moves mark the first major executive changes at Sun, following Friday's sweeping agreement between that company and Microsoft. The two companies, after years of being bitter foes, last week signed a pact to settle all legal proceedings and to collaborate on future technical projects.

Loiacono will serve as executive vice president of software, replacing Jonathan Schwartz, now Sun's president and chief operating officer, according to Sun. Loiacono had been vice president of the company's operating platforms group, in charge of the strategy for the Solaris and Linux operating systems.

Loiacono said the company remained committed to its current software strategy and that he would be very involved in joint technical work with Microsoft.

"We will build on our new collaboration with Microsoft and plans to provide the most Microsoft-interoperable software available, while continuing to focus on delivering end-to-end network solutions--from the data center and desktop environments, to mobile devices and smart cards," Loiacono said in a statement.

One analyst said the choice of Loiacono is a good one for Sun, which needs executives committed to the notion of close interoperability with Microsoft products. In the past, many Sun executives were opposed to making Sun's hardware and software work well with Microsoft's software, and the company tended to hire too much from within, said Jonathan Eunice, an analyst at Illuminata.

Loiacono has demonstrated a good sense of humor, which indicates a willingness to change, Eunice said.

"I think the problem with Sun management is that they took themselves really seriously," Eunice said. "If you can laugh at yourself, you're able to examine actions from a distance, and that is an important aspect to changing what you do."

Green will be leaving to join another software venture, according to Sun. Green tendered his resignation several weeks ago but waited until the Microsoft agreement was settled before announcing his departure, a Sun representative said Monday. The changes were announced internally on Friday.

Green, who had been at Sun since 1989, was a central figure in Sun's antitrust suit against Microsoft. He testified against Microsoft in court, arguing that the software giant violated a Java licensing contract between two companies. Green was also instrumental in signing up PC manufacturers to bundle Sun's own Java Virtual Machine software, rather than Microsoft's, in their machines.

A Sun representative said Green was instrumental in brokering the company's legal settlement with Microsoft.

Green had been vice president of software development platforms at Sun. He was involved in a programming tool, called Java Studio Creator, aimed at luring Microsoft developers to Sun's Java software.

 

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