Sun CEO outlines Java-powered future

By David Enders, The Associated Press
Friday May 10, 2002

DETROIT — Connecting employees to each other is one of the most important factors in making a business competitive, Scott McNealy, chairman and chief executive of Sun Microsystems Inc., said Thursday in a speech peppered with jabs at the software company’s rival, Microsoft Corp. 

McNealy, who outlined his plan for competing with Microsoft by creating a more flexible office network, gave a keynote speech at the Michigan IT Summit in Detroit. 

He also offered his vision for an office with a virtual, downloadable desktop accessible anytime, anywhere. 

“I have access to 100 percent of what I need to run Sun from a Java browser,” he said. “I love it because I get a lot more work out of employees.” 

The advantage over Microsoft’s network, he said, is that employees would be able to access it with multiple interfaces — not just Microsoft programs, the way Microsoft’s office network is set up. 

“They have a secret handshake for every piece,” he said. 

A message seeking comment was placed Thursday with Microsoft. 

McNealy has been a vocal critic of Microsoft. Earlier this year, Palo Alto, Calif.-based Sun filed a lawsuit against the software giant, claiming it was using a monopoly position to damage Sun’s Java programming language. 

McNealy also stressed the importance of building an online directory of customers. 

“Every company needs to beat its competitors into getting all the rich and/or smart folks into that directory,” McNealy said. “If you can react faster, you’re going to win.” 

Sun, which makes high-end networking computers and software, was hard hit as dot-coms collapsed, telecommunications companies slowed spending and competition increased. 

“I’m kind of happy the bubble’s over,” McNealy said. “There was a something-dot-com for everything.” 

McNealy said part of the dot-com collapse was companies’ failures to build customer directories properly, by beginning with their own employees. 

“The big mistake is that everybody wanted to go sell something online,” he said. “The employees are the most important.” 

The company expects to return to profitability in the current quarter.