IT Forum: McNealy predicts 'W2K' disaster

In IT Forum keynote, McNealy returns to his favoured past-time of Microsoft-bashing.

Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy spoke by live satellite link to the IT Forum in Paris Tuesday afternoon and broke what must be a personal record -- he took less than 20 seconds to make a negative point about Microsoft.

Returning to a favourite theme, he asserted that the Network PC is the future of computing. "The Web is in charge. There is one company that's trying to be in charge... but the rest of the world is trying to be open." The Web is choosing the technologies, and it is not choosing proprietary systems. HTML, Java, TCP/IP -- all examples of the Web being in charge and choosing standards that fit with an Internet vision, argued McNealy.

He challenged the audience to answer the following three questions, and told them in advance that the answer to all three would be "zero": "Name one Web site that can't be viewed with a Java browser. Name one Web site that can be viewed by Windows. Name one thing that is not on a Web site."

On the Star Division software suite acquisition, McNealy said that 250,000 people have already downloaded the application suite, and that an ISP-network version of the suite would ship shortly.

McNealy began his speech as he ended it: with a negative prediction about Microsoft, predicting that "W2K [Windows 2000] will be a bigger disaster than Y2K."

In a Q&A session immediately after the keynote, McNealy was asked to explain why, if the Network PC is so hot, only one million would ship this year, as against 100 million PCs. No direct answer was given, but McNealy did offer an interesting observation: he said that not one dollar of $3bn worth of venture capital that went into Silicon Valley startups last year went into firms selling shrink-wrapped software.