Sun Microsystems admitted at the launch of its new SunFire servers on Tuesday that this month's terror attacks had hit sales hard, and that it may have to do a U-turn on its no job cuts policy.
Executives at the firm, due to unveil a new Microsoft rival on Wednesday, said that sales were significantly below usual September levels because clients weren't yet ready to do deals following the attacks on 11 September.
Combined with the pre-attack slowdown in IT spending, pressure has been put on Sun's policy of maintaining R&D and staffing levels throughout the slump. Rivals such as Hewlett Packard have already announced thousands of job cuts.
Scott McNealy, chief executive at Sun, said: "I can tell you we always count on a big September. It was not helpful economically to have the week the US stood still during the month."
Chief operating officer Ed Zander also said this week that the firm would be reviewing "everything" following the end of the quarter, but that product development was unlikely to be delayed. "It's a difficult environment to ask for purchase orders right now. It's getting better every day, but it's hard," he explained.
But both executives were confident that the slump was only temporary. McNealy told US media: "The traditional players we've been selling to in the past are going to come back."
Separately, Sun is expected to unveil a rival to Microsoft's Passport initiative later today [Wednesday]. Unlike Microsoft's system, it is thought it will not assemble a central store of consumer data.
Passport takes consumer details so that users don't have to keep re-entering information as they move from website to website.
Microsoft said last week that it would base future version of Passport on the Kerberos open source encryption protocol to encourage rivals to at least adopt a common standard on security.
However, commentators were sceptical of Microsoft's commitment to a common standard for what is a central plank of its planned .Net services.
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