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PC World Online

McNealy says to buy services rather than PCs


"The most ridiculous way to get information is through a PC," declares Sun's CEO.

January 29, 1999
Web posted at: 12:30 p.m. EST (1730 GMT)

by Mary Lisbeth D'Amico

(IDG) -- Internet service providers will play an increasingly dominant role in delivering mission-critical information, Sun Microsystems Chief Executive Officer Scott McNealy said on Thursday.

"To put it diplomatically, the most ridiculous way to get information is through a PC," McNealy told those gathered at Deutsche Telekom's international press colloquium in Frankfurt, Germany. The better way to get information is through ISPs, he said, whether they be fixed or mobile telecommunications carriers, cable companies, or even utilities.

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Information systems departments, he said, should hand over as many tasks as possible to service providers. He recommended, for example, that corporations shut down their e-mail services and tell employees to get their own free e-mail accounts. Companies such as Infoseek, Excite, and GTE offer free e-mail services, and they can do a better job of running it than any internal information systems department, McNealy said.

In fact, he said, companies should get everything they can free over the Internet from service providers -- free news, free spreadsheets, free presentation graphics -- negating the need for what he called a "four-way Pentium NT hairball" to do all those things.

In the future, people will stop buying PCs, he predicted, and "the rest of us should just buy services." ISPs will also design personalized Web sites for company employees, just as they do for consumers, McNealy said.

These growing demands will present ISPs with new challenges, such as making data networks as reliable as voice networks, he said.

To meet the challenge, ISPs have to keep services and content device-neutral and base all services on Internet protocol, McNealy said. Users should not have to use Windows to view data or run services. Instead, they should view and receive data through Java-based browsers.

The model for this vision is one in which simple, reliable appliances -- devices such as a telephone -- link users up to a network. "You know how to boot up a telephone? You pick it up," he quipped.

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