Sun Microsystems' president Ed Zander was left with egg on his face yesterday when a software demonstration in front of 1,200 customers and analysts went wrong.
While delivering the keynote speech at Sun's Enterprise Computing Forum in New York, Zander and an assistant attempted to show the features of Staroffice, the flagship product of the company's latest acquisition, Germany company Stardivision. (see Newswire 31 August)
Sun is touting Staroffice as a competitor to Microsoft Office, by making it available for free and by hosting it on the Web. CD versions of the product are available from Sun for $9.
However, when Paul Loos, Sun's technology manager attempted to open a Web based Staroffice file via a browser the document would not open. Zander was left to fill in while Loos, continued to coax the document into opening without success.
The Sun president then began to lose patience with his assistant and quipped: "Get this thing up or sit down. You're wrecking my presentation."
Loos replied: "This is the risk you take using an alpha product on stage. Hopefully I will be getting my pay check next week."
In a face saving exercise, Loos managed to open the document via a Palm Five, demonstrating the Sun ethos that PCs will be only one of the devices connected to corporate networks in the future.
Despite the technical hiccups, Sun is claiming around 200,000 customers have downloaded Staroffice since it was posted on the Web, at the beginning of September.
Andrew A Bochman, research director at analyst company Aberdeen Group, said that Staroffice could be real competitor to Microsoft Office, but only if Sun gets the marketing right.
"Not all good technology is successful. Sun have solved the technical issues but it remains to be seen if they can convince IT managers," he said.
Sun also announced details of Solaris 8 at the forum. The first beta of the OS shipped to 100 customers at the end of August. It is due for final release early next year and will include support for IPV6 and improved scalability and availability.
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