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Sun and Microsoft are to collaborate on Windows server and client support and to co-develop new server products, eventually co-producing e-mail and database software.
Users will be able to consolidate on a wider range of hardware from Sun, or gain from better interoperability between Sun hardware and servers from other suppliers which are based on Microsoft platforms.
Sun will adopt Windows certification for its Intel Xeon and AMD Opteron-based servers, which could put them on an even footing with hardware from IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Dell.
Neil Macehiter, research director at analyst firm Ovum, said Windows certification will be attractive to existing Sun users. "Users do not have to go to another supplier for x86 machines if they have a relationship with a Sun supplier. But it will come down to pricing."
Mitul Mehta, managing director of analyst firm TekPlus, said the agreement would make it easier for users to mix and match products, and added that it would also help the two companies compete against Linux in the server market.
He added, "The agreement will be positive for users of Sun Solaris, because it will give them a road map of interoperability, so they can plan ahead."