Google and Sun aspire to be Office killers

5 Oct 2005

Online search giant Google and hardware and software maker Sun Microsystems have decided to pool their resources in a bid to promote and distribute their software to millions of users around the world. The venture will make it easier to obtain Sun’s Java software, the Google Toolbar and the productivity suite; a move observers suggest is designed to break the dominance of Microsoft’s Office suite.

Under the agreement, Sun will include the Google Toolbar as an option in its consumer downloads of the Java Runtime Environment on In addition, the companies have agreed to explore opportunities to promote and enhance Sun technologies, like the Java Runtime Environment and the productivity suite available at

At a joint press conference yesterday in Silicon Valley, Sun CEO Scott McNealy and Google chief Eric Schmidt said that the deal would lead to major revenue-generating opportunities for both companies. Around 20 million people download Java software every month. As well as this, putting Google Toolbars inside their browsers could lead to a major increase in Google’s user base and a boost to the company’s advertising revenues. It is understood that Google will pay a fee to Sun for each download of its toolbar.

Java is one of the most recognised and respected technology brands in the world. Celebrating its 10th birthday this year, the technology supports a US$100bn market.

“Google and Java are two of the most widely recognised technology brands because they provide users with online tools that enhance their lives on a day to day basis,” said Schmidt. “The Google Toolbar offers useful internet search services while Java enables richer interactive content. We look forward to exploring other related areas of collaboration.”

It was originally envisaged that Google would distribute Sun’s OpenOffice productivity suite – which competes against Microsoft’s Office suite of word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software – as a web service and in one deft move create a significant rival to Microsoft as Google is used by 80 million people every month. However, both Schmidt and McNealy have been vague about plans in this area, disappointing analysts who say that unless both companies went down this road they could possibly miss out on a golden opportunity.

“As a leader in free and open source software, Sun has long recognised that network innovation is vital to the evolution of the global economy,” McNealy said. “Working with Google will make our technologies available more broadly, increase options for users, lower barriers and expand participation worldwide. Free and open source technologies, such as, OpenSolaris and Java, have never been safer or offered more choices.”

By John Kennedy