Sources said Java OS for Business, introduced on 1 April, was the first noteworthy threat to Windows since the demise of IBM's OS/2, which was only successful in niche sectors such as banks.
IBM has since pledged its allegiance to Windows NT in the systems market, but its work with Sun could represent a compelling option for enterprise and OEM customers looking for an alternative, open OS for clients.
The companies expect network computer (NC) customers buying IBM's Network Stations or Sun's recently launched JavaStations to opt for the Java OS.
The Java OS already ships in a slimmed down Personal Java version, and Java OS for consumers, the variant for mass market devices that was launched at the JavaOne show last week (PC Dealer, 1 April).
IBM and Sun hope the trio of OS can trigger the perceived boom in Java-based software for business use, which has so far failed to deliver the sales Sun had anticipated.
One analyst commented that the collaboration was vital for IBM. 'Java needs to succeed in corporates or the companies are left with no alternative apart from Microsoft. Customers need to have a choice of operating systems,' he said.
IBM said it would use Java OS for Business in its high-end network computers in early 1999, while Sun expects to introduce the operating system into JavaStation machines over the next year. The companies will license their technology out to third parties.
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