Sun is adopting a new attitude toward Microsoft as it continues to see its business weaken. The company said today that it was cutting 3,300 jobs, or 9 percent of its workforce, and projected that its losses in the quarter ended in March would be $750 million to $810 million, larger than Wall Street had expected.
Sun’s chairman and chief executive, Scott G. McNealy, termed the new relationship between the two companies an indication that it was time for them to move beyond the acrimony of the past. And the main benefit of the agreement would be to help corporate customers because Sun and Microsoft products would work together more smoothly.
“Maybe we’ve grown up, maybe they’ve grown up,” Mr. McNealy said at a press conference in San Francisco with Steve Ballmer, the chief executive of Microsoft. “The customers are in charge these days. That’s what this is about.”
In the last few years, Microsoft sought to settle the private antitrust suits that followed the federal antitrust suit brought by the Justice Department and several states. Microsoft lost that suit, which accused the company with frequently abusing its monopoly power. But in 2001, the company reached a settlement with the Bush administration that curbed some of Microsoft’s practices but did not alter the company’s basic strategy of adding new software to its industry-dominant Windows operating system, which runs on more than 90 percent of all personal computers.
The agreement comes a week after the European Commission delivered a stinging antitrust ruling against Microsoft in a case that began in 1998 with complaints from Sun. The European action goes well beyond Sun’s original complaint that Microsoft withheld the technical information needed by rivals so that their software could work well with Microsoft’s Windows operating system.
The European ruling, which Microsoft is appealing, orders Microsoft to broadly give rivals technical information about Windows desktop and Windows server programs. Sun competes with Microsoft in the market for server software with its Solaris operating system. But the European order also challenges Microsoft’s practice of bundling new products — like its software for playing music and video files sent over the Internet — into Windows.
The Microsoft-Sun settlement has no direct impact on the European case. But technology-sharing elements of today’s agreement appears to give Sun access to Microsoft’s technology that it had sought. Those kinds of concessions, legal analysts said, may strengthen Microsoft’s hand as it continues to try to settle the European case.