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Google, Sun Form Multi-Year Partnership

Google and Sun Microsystems joined forces to promote and distribute each other's technologies, the two companies disclosed this week. Under the newly inked multi-year agreement, Sun will include the Google Toolbar as an option in its consumer downloads of the Java Runtime Environment (JRE); Google will "promote and enhance" Sun's Java Desktop and Open Office application suite.

"Working with Google will make our technologies available more broadly, increase options for users, lower barriers and expand participation worldwide," said Sun's CEO Scott McNealy at a joint press conference held at the Computer History Museum in Google's hometown of Mountain View, Calif. (just up the road from Sun's headquarters in Santa Clara).

McNealy sees the partnership as a natural one, because, among other things, Google CEO Eric Schmidt is a former Sun employee who "shepherded" the Sun OS that evolved into Solaris.

"We were hot once and have been refocusing and retooling and have turned around and done a good job of capturing some large Solaris deployments," McNealy says. "We also want to take back the Web, and so what better way to take back the Web than to partner with the leader of Web services, Google."

Schmidt also views the companies as natural allies. "We at Google do Java all over the place," he said, "so it's a natural extension and endorsement. And we will work with Sun to make that continue to happen. We are already a Sun customer, and we will be expanding that significantly going forward."

The heart of the deal for Google, Schmidt says, is the scale of customer access. Bundling the Google Toolbar with the JRE will give the Internet search giant access to tens of millions of new users, he said. The Java.com Web site logs about 20 million downloads of the JRE per month, according to Sun.

Neither exec would confirm rumors circulating before the press conference that Google would offer a hosted version of Open Office.

"Google will become an even bigger Sun customer, so stay tuned for more on that,” McNealy says. “They will also be key to all of the free and open technologies we are driving. There will be a lot of money flowing both ways, we will be using their advertising, and they are a customer using our technology, so stay tuned."

McNealy and Schmidt mugged for the cameras with two high-tech legends: Andy Bechtolsheim, a Sun co-founder who recently returned to the company to launch its Galaxy servers; and Vint Cerf, whose work on the TCP/IP networking protocol at Stanford in the 1970s earned him the moniker "father of the Internet." Cerf recently joined Google as an Internet evangelist. Bechtolsheim was one of the original investors in Google; he wrote a check for $100,000 that helped get the company started.

McNealy and Schmidt also exchanged gifts. McNealy gave Schmidt a "starter kit" that included a Sun blade server and copies of the Solaris operating system and Star Office. Schmidt gave McNealy a lava lamp.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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