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Sun shines on Project Looking Glass

Visitors to Sun Microsystems' stand have caught a glimpse of the firm's Project Looking Glass as well as being educated about all things Java.

Visitors to Sun Microsystems' stand have caught a glimpse of the firm's Project Looking Glass as well as being educated about all things Java.

Wowing visitors to Sun's stand this week is a project that is being showcased for the first time in this region. "Looking Glass is not a product, it's a technology," explains Dr. Hellmuth Broda, chief technology officer, EMEA. "It's not something you can buy right now, but it shows what the whole desktop paradigm can do."

Best described as a fully customisable 360-degree desktop environment, Looking Glass allows application windows to be placed anywhere in the desktop landscape, not necessarily in front of the user, plus Windows can be rotated 360-degrees and even made transparent. "Looking Glass shows how much more you can do with the desktop," says Broda. "We're all used to the Microsoft world where you have pull-down menus, but some of our engineers said let's try something totally different. Looking Glass is breathtaking and I would recommend everyone come by the Sun stand and take a look at it."

Having developed the first version of Looking Glass, Sun has decided to offer it for wider development by distributing it to the open-source community because, says Broda, the project isn't a core activity. "As Sun we're totally aware that innovation usually happens elsewhere," he says. "By doing things open-source and putting this project in the open-source community, we can tap the brains of the world and get them to contribute." The open-source approach has local benefits too, he claims: "We don't have the time or bandwidth to put everything into local languages, so Arab versions can be done locally, which is a fantastic thing."

Java technology as a whole has been a major focus for Sun at this year's Gitex. In addition to targeting both desktop and enterprise environments, the firm has been giving away free servers to software customers, with those who purchase a one-year subscription license for Sun's Java Enterprise System receiving a Sun Fire V20z server, a perpetual Solaris 9 x86 right-to-use license, and one year SunSpectrum Silver support.

In discussing the Middle East market more broadly, Broda reckons open standards and open systems are very important, for instance "taking a block, such as our Java Enterprise system, taking out the web server, putting in the Apache instead, and it working." "Today's customer wants a best of breed approach," he explains.

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