Sun Microsystems has previewed of its upcoming open source-based desktop suite, dubbed Project Mad Hatter. The company is offering the suite as an alternative to Microsoft’s Windows-based desktops, claiming it is more secure, less complex and less expensive.
Slated to be on the market in the fourth quarter of 2003, Mad Hatter will run on Sun Solaris, SuSe Linux and RedHat Linux. Mad Hatter will also include StarOffice - a Sun office suite based on OpenOffice.org, that reads and writes all Microsoft file formats, according to Sun.
The Mad Hatter suite would also employ the open source Web browser, Mozilla, and would use GNU network object model (GNOME) - a Linux windows manager with a similar look and feel to Microsoft Windows, director of products and technology for Sun Microsystems in Canada, Gord Sissons, said.
"We think the maturing of the [open source] software has now reached a point where it’s acceptable to end users," he said. "It really gives them a user experience very similar to what they’d encounter in a Microsoft desktop. But we also think there is an opportunity to dramatically lower the cost of deploying and managing those desktops."
According to Sun’s calculations, it currently costs companies about $US160 per user per month to deploy a functional Microsoft Windows desktop. With Mad Hatter, Sissons said this could reduce costs to about $US50 per user per month.
Most of the savings, he said, come from reduced costs of software licensing.
While the concept of Mad Hatter was similar to Lindows, an open source desktop manager based on Linux, Sissons said Sun was not threatened because it targeted large enterprises with Mad Hatter.
The full details of Project Mad Hatter will be released at Sun’s three-day user conference, SunNetwork, beginning on September 16 in San Francisco.
Sissons said that Sun would eventually roll out two editions of Mad Hatter - a standard edition for small businesses and home users, and an enterprise edition that would include network management tools for large enterprises.