Jonathan Schwartz of Sun Microsystems thinks that we won’t word process on the web

A few weeks ago, I was skimming through Information Week when I ran across an article entitled “Office Politics: Google-Sun Alliance Squarely Targets Microsoft.” (Click the title for the electronic version) In that article, Sun president Jonathan Schwartz said something that I found interesting:

“‘Working online is great for E-mail or writing a blog, but not for writing a Ph.D. thesis.’”

- Information Week, “Office Politics: Google-Sun Alliance Squarely Targets Microsoft,” Oct. 10, 2005

Really? I can think of a couple of web-based document editors I wouldn’t mind using to write a Ph.D. thesis. But I’m not crazy enough to write a PhD. thesis. Isn’t enabling this kind of historically client-server technology (partially) what the AJAX craze is all about? Why would Sun say such a thing in an article that highlights their partnership with a Web 2.0 pioneer? I think the sentence before the quote explains why:

“Sun itself gave up on developing a Web-based version of StarOffice years ago.”

- Information Week, “Office Politics: Google-Sun Alliance Squarely Targets Microsoft,” Oct. 10, 2005

If they gave up years ago, I don’t blame them. Years ago was back when the web was merely a hypertext system and commerce-enabler. Years ago, no one save Netscape and a few yahoos ever said “the web is a platform.” Sun’s “we’ve tried that already” attitude, with a disregard to how the web has changed since they abandoned StarOfficeOnline, is exactly the reason why the “old guard” software companies are falling behind. Sun should rethink their approach because packaging the Java Runtime Environment with Google Desktop isn’t going to do anyone any favors. Personally, I hope that Sun’s partnership with Google means that they are rethinking the StarOffice initiative and that their comments are just a smoke-screen.

  • Martin Soren

    go read his blog now, you’ll see what he meant,

  • TheSatch

    Thanks for the comment and link Martin. It’s always good to get more info from the source. Honestly, I’m not sure that Schwartz’s blog did anything but reinforce what I said above. I’m sure this quote may have been why you linked me there:

    “…please don’t read in to my comments that I’m not convinced the world needs an AJAX office suite (any more than we need an AJAX browser) as anything more than a perspective on today’s reality.”

    Honestly, I feel that this statement reinforces my comments about old guard companies lagging behind on the new web, especially with phrases like “a perspective on today’s reality.” Well Sun has the power to change today’s reality along with Google (a company that already has). That’s why I don’t like the “wait and see” approach. It’s letting others do the dirty work and then forming partnerships to deliver their software…

    But maybe I’m missing something. Did you see anything else in his posts that stood out to you?