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Sun, Microsoft to write another interop chapter?

Tomorrow afternoon Sun and Microsoft will co-host a conference call to talk up hopefully some tangible new facet of their plan to make their respective operating systems and toolsets work well together.

Headlining the event will be Sun systems chief John Fowler and Microsoft Server & Tools marketing guru Andy Lees. Notice of the event was sent to reporters Tuesday night.

The companies will talk about what the e-mail called an “expanded relationship.”

Let’s go to the way back machine for a sec and recap what the two companies promised in April of 2004 when Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his Sun counterpart Scott McNealy jointly pledged to make nice—at least in terms of technology– for the sake of customers.

Tthey pledged generally to provide “seamless interoperability” between Windows and Solaris and Java and .Net development platforms. Also single sign-on for Microsoft’s Active Directory and Sun’s Java System Identity Server.

The pact also ended such unpleasantness as Sun’s antitrust suit vs. Microsoft in return for about $1.6 billion of Microsoft’s cash to Sun’s coffers. And the raucous, if entertaining, rhetoric between the companies’ hyperkinetic executives definitely ratcheted down. For an example of past Ballmer-McNealy interactions check out this story.

Eight months later, Sun/Microsoft added plans to offer interop between Sun’s N1 and Microsoft’s Dynamic System Initiative (DSI) management frameworks. At that time, the company said they’d already made progress integrating Sun’s storage software and services with the core storage services in Windows Server, Virtual Disk Service and Volume Shadow Copy services.

When this rosy cloud of technological kumbaya descended, cynics viewed tne move as an attempt by two proprietary software companies to glom together against the free and open software movement.

It’ll be interesting to see what’s up their sleeves tomorrow.

Barbara Darrow, a Boston-area journalist, can be reached at

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