Sun Microsystems was today expected to unveil its Solaris 8 operating system, which includes hundreds of new features and enhancements over Solaris 7, a representative for Sun said.
Solaris 8, which has been available in beta version since last November, is aimed at users looking to move their data centres onto the Internet. Sun called reports that Solaris 8 will be "free and open code" inaccurate.
One feature of Solaris 8 that has been anticipated is Live Update, which keeps the old operating-system preferences and log files intact as the user installs Solaris 8, according to sources.
Solaris 8 will most likely compete for market share against the Datacenter Version of Microsoft's long-awaited Windows 2000 operating platform. One Sun representative called Windows 2000 Datacenter Server "vapourware", saying it is nowhere near completion; Microsoft, which will formally launch Windows 2000 on February 17, has announced that the high-end version of Windows 2000 Server will ship 120 days after that.
One analyst said that Solaris 8 is expected to include ease-of-use improvements and be priced less than Solaris 7.
"For Unix operating systems it's always been a battle for simplicity, and the price of Unix has always been higher than [Windows] NT," said Joyce Becknell, director of the platform group at Aberdeen Group, a Boston-based market research company.
Becknell said that Solaris 8 will adopt many of the ease-of-use features that have made NT attractive. Likewise, Becknell expects the Windows 2000 Datacenter, when it ships, to pack reliability features normally associated with Unix.
"Lower cost and ease of use has been the appeal Microsoft has had up to now with NT," Becknell said, "so Microsoft is looking for scalability and reliability at the high end, while Sun wants increased simplicity and a more competitive price tag."
"Sun hasn't rewritten Solaris, it's just making it faster and easier to live with," Becknell said.