Sun promotes Mad Hatter as secure alternative to Microsoft

Seizing the opportunity to criticize a competitor and promote its own operating system, Sun Microsystems Inc. on Wednesday opened up early registration for its Project Mad Hatter.

Designed to compete with Microsoft Corp., Project Mad Hatter is being positioned by Sun as a cheaper, secure alternative desktop operating system to Microsoft's various desktop offerings. The announcement was made as the MSBlaster worm, which exploits the Microsoft OS, continues to spread.

Peder Ulander, director of marketing for desktop solutions at Sun Microsystems, revealed that Sun's as-yet-unnamed desktop OS will be available in September at its annual SunNetwork user conference. At that time the company will reveal pricing, the name of the product, and the business model for selling it, Ulander said.

Ulander described the future OS as an "alternative enterprise desktop client" that relies on open standards and open file formats. He added that the desktop client will provide all of the functions 80 percent of enterprise employees require today.

"It is the exact same functionality at a fourth the cost, and (it) is not as vulnerable to viruses," said Ulander.

When asked how he knows it is not as vulnerable to viruses, Ulander explained it would have fewer holes to exploits due to the fact it is built on top of Linux.

"How (Microsoft) built their OS makes it fairly easy to exploit," said Ulander. "Virus writers can script to their macro environment."

The press release, issued on Monday, announcing the Project Mad Hatter news also included a shot at Microsoft. Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president at Sun, was quoted as saying "reliance on a single vendor for desktop deployments represents an Achilles heel in the safety and security of the world's network infrastructure."

The release also told users how they could sign up for the program, which begins soon.

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