Sun Reveals Java Desktop 3

Sun this week at LinuxWorld revealed its Java Desktop 3.0 enterprise Linux desktop environment. Sun has not yet given a laundry list of features, but has indicated that device support and productivity are the foremost attributes of the upgrade.

The new Java Desktop is built atop the Linux 2.6 kernel to build a better base of support for modern hardware, with recent open source components providing for better interoperability with "legacy desktops" and Microsoft Office.

Herb Hinstorff, Director of the Client Systems Group at Sun Microsystems, told BetaNews that a wealth of drivers were made possible by the Linux 2.6 kernel, especially for laptops and wireless devices.

Hinstorff credited open source software like Samba 3.0 and the Evolution calendar tool for making Java Desktop work better with Microsoft Windows and Exchange.

Hinstorff said that these components further support for legacy desktops "like the Microsoft Windows environment." Having legacy support is an important requisite to obtain government contracts, as is 508 compliance. Sun has integrated accessibility features from Mozilla and Gnome to help people with disabilities.

Any enhancements that Sun made to the code base were contributed back to the open source community, the company said.

Thus far, the approach seems to have paid off; Sun has struck several high profile deals with the governments of the United Kingdom and People's Republic of China.

Sun has also managed to work Java Desktop into the consumer marketplace, striking a deal with Wal-Mart in late 2003.

The Java Desktop 3.0 beta began in December and ran for approximately one month. Sun says it obtained "uniformly positive feedback" and, as a result, is moving ahead for a general release some time during the second quarter of 2005.

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