Personal Computers

Sun Slashes Workstation Prices

Sun Microsystems today introduced a new workstation aimed at computer-aided design engineers and software developers — with a price point low enough that the company hopes it will woo users away from the competition.

The Sun Ultra 20 Workstation enters the market with a starting price of US$895, or $29.95 a month on a three-year subscription, with the Solaris 10 operating system, Sun Java Studio Enterprise 7 software, and Sun Java Studio Creator 2004Q2 developer tools installed.

Sun also announced the new Sun Ultra 3 Mobile Workstation. With a base price of $3,400, the Sun Ultra 3 Mobile Workstation features an UltraSPARC processor and enables SPARC binary-compatibility for mobile computing.

“Sun continues to deliver workstations and promotional programs that developers demand, offering new Sun Ultra Workstations that have achieved numerous world-record price/performance benchmarks,” said Lisa Sieker, vice president of marketing, Network Systems Group, Sun Microsystems.

“The new Sun Ultra Workstations are 32-/64-bit compatible and have the capability of running multiple operating systems, including the Solaris OS, Linux and Windows,” she said.

Try and Buy

Sun announced several other new programs to drive customer adoption quickly. The Ultra 20 “Try and Buy” program allows customers to try the Sun Ultra 20 Workstation for 90 days at no charge, with an option to purchase the system at the end of the program. The Try and Buy program is available now until August 31, 2005.

Sarang Ghatpande, vice president and senior analyst at Ideas International, told TechNewsWorld that Sun disrupted the workstation market in the late 1990s and is seeking a repeat performance with an AMD-powered system in an x86 space primarily dominated by Intel.

“Sun has been consistent in delivering on the price performance part,” Ghatpande said. “The pricing and value-added software bundle is definitely going to be attractive to customers. The subscription-based pricing model is very innovative and creative as well. This probably works better than the leasing options and is ideal for SMB customers who don’t want to pay a large amount of money upfront.”

Embracing Windows

Analysts said Sun continues to push the envelope with its new Sun Ultra workstations, demonstrating that it can deliver on customer demand. The leading performance of these new machines and their unparalleled flexibility allow them to be deployed in virtually any IT environment and serve as the backbone for designing and delivering on mission-critical projects, according to Ghatpande.

But Sun still has Windows-based challenges. Although the company has certified its new Ultra Workstations to run Windows, it does not pre-load Windows or support the platform directly. In order to win customers from competitors like Dell and IBM, analysts said Sun needs to take it a step further.

“Sun has a good presence in that market, but for it to break into new areas and gain significant market share, it needs to embrace Windows,” Ghatpande said. “Even if Sun doesn’t do it, the company needs to get its partners together and tap into the demand for Windows-based systems.”

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