Sun Micro to publish more software source code

Sun Microsystems said late on Sunday that it will publish the source code of its software used as the foundation of Web services, such as online banking, in a bid to spur sales of its computer services and other offerings.

The network computer maker said that it will share the source code for its Java System application server software Platform Edition 9, which enables Web services. Source code is the underlying blueprint of software.

The move by Sun comes almost two weeks after the company published the source code for its Solaris operating system that is used to run large computer centres. That move also, Sun hopes, will help drive sales of its software, services, as well as its computer servers and possibly its data storage gear.

By making the application server software free to developers, who write programs and make possible Web services that work in conjunction with application server software, Sun hopes to increase further the number of Sun software developers.

"This is as much about growing Sun's overall mindshare and increasing the number of Sun developers in the market," said Stephen O'Grady, an analyst at market research firm Red Monk.

Late last month, Sun announced a $50 million (27.4 million pounds) advertising campaign to revamp its brand in what Sun said was its biggest-ever brand overhaul. The campaign uses clients including eBay, General Motors Corp and Major League Baseball to show how its products and services help connect people across businesses and personal interests.

"Now I can sell services, systems, storage and design services, because I got my foot in the door" by giving away the code to the Java application server, John Loiacono, the head of Sun's software group, said in a telephone interview.

Since the implosion of the dot-com and telecommunications investment bubbles in 2001, Sun has been harder hit than rivals International Business Machines, Dell and Hewlett-Packard. Two of Sun's key markets, financial services and telecommunications, suffered the most in the recession that began in 2001.

The announcement by Sun comes on the eve of its annual JavaOne conference in San Francisco. Java is a programming language that can be used to create software programs that run on many different types of computers and devices, from ATMs to personal computers to cell phones.

Since Java's introduction 10 years ago, when it was initially used mainly to animate Web pages, the programming language has mushroomed into broad and pervasive use.

Loiacono said that there are now more than 2.5 billion electronic devices that use Java, including more than 700 million cellular handsets, and more than 4.5 million Java developers, up from just less than 4 million last year.

But Sun has also faced criticism over the years from Wall Street analysts for not having been more successful in wringing revenue and profits from the widely used computer language. Sun has said in response that it is difficult to quantify how many computer servers it has sold because of Java, or vice versa.

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