Sun Microsystems is to release the second version of its Java Desktop System, featuring new tools for centralised management of client systems by midyear.
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Last year, Sun released the debut version of the system in an attempt to win a share in the desktop operating system and applications market. The software sells at a promotional price of $50 a user, a year, but the cost will rise to the product's planned selling price of $100 per user with JDS' second release.
While the first release of JDS focused on the software's user side, version two will boost the product's functionality for administrators, with features such as a desktop updates tool to ease deployments of patches and new software.
Administrators will also be able to manage aspects of their users' desktop environments remotely, customising features and application options, for example, according to users' job roles.
"What we're showing users is how to take it to the next level. We got it down to where we figured out users. Next step, IT guys," said Sun desktop products marketing director Peder Ulander.
Sun's goal with JDS is a sweeping disruption of Microsoft's grip on the business desktop. In July, Sun software head Jonathan Schwartz said the company hopes to sell 50 million JDS licences within three years.
Sun scored its splashiest endorsement for JDS so far in November, when it struck a deal with China Standard Software to provide up to one million JDS licences.
Governments and organisations outside the US have been more willing to announce their JDS interest, Ulander said. Sun will not disclose how many JDS licences it has sold so far, but Ulander insisted the OS-and-apps package is attracting serious interest among large companies frustrated by the heavy investments required to keep their Microsoft licences up to date.
Stacy Cowley writes for IDG News Service