Comdex: McNealy plays Judge Jackson

If Microsoft's courtroom fate was up to Scott McNealy, the software behemoth would have to agree to four conditions or be broken up, the chairman and CEO of Sun Microsystems said at Comdex yesterday.

McNealy was asked what he would do to Microsoft if he were US District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, the presiding official in the US Department of Justice's case against the software giant.

McNealy outlined four actions that he said Microsoft must agree to or be structurally prevented from doing.

He said Microsoft must agree to transparent pricing and to eliminate exclusionary terms, so that Microsoft's customers aren't threatened. In addition, Microsoft must open up its APIs (application programming interfaces) for Office and Windows, the two product areas in which Microsoft has a monopoly. Finally, the company must agree to refrain from using "monopoly money" to buy into other areas, such as "AT&T and magically selling millions of copies of that (Windows) CE thing that no one wants," McNealy said.

McNealy was doubtful that Microsoft would agree to those conditions.

"I don't think they'll buy into that, and if they don't, get the chainsaw out," McNealy said. "If I was a betting person, I would say [the court is] going to break them up."

Also at Comdex, Novell announced a version of NDS (Novell Directory Services) for Windows NT, Novell NetWare and Sun Microsystems' Solaris.

Corel president and CEO Michael Cowpland used his Comdex keynote to outline some of the reasons his company is betting heavily on Linux.

Cowpland explained his company's strategy around Linux, praising it as an operating system that offers freedom and reliability. Corel recently launched Corel Linux OS for desktops, which is due to ship early next year.

"Linux is very reliable," said Cowpland. The best part is its users face "no threats to remove Windows licenses or increases in license fees."

Corel plans to build on its installed user base of 35 million users of its WordPerfect word processor and 15 million users of the desktop publishing application Corel Draw to build a base for its Linux offerings. Early next year, it will release a Linux version of the word processing application. Next year, it also plans to release Linux-based versions of QuattroPro spreadsheet application, Paradox database software and its Presentations application. In the second or third quarter, it will release CorelDraw on Linux.

Corel's strategy for getting its Linux OS into the market is threefold. It will work with PC makers to pre-install Linux on PCs. It has already inked deals with Compaq and Toshiba, Cowpland said.

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