But don't count out the NC yet, McNealy added in his address on Wednesday at Harvard University's Conference on Internet and Society. The erstwhile PC alternative's best days are ahead of it, he said.
Noting that the company just celebrated the third anniversary of the Java programming language, the Sun chief said people are jumping the gun by expecting Java and the NCs many expect it to run on to already be ubiquitous. "People wonder how come it all hasn't yet changed their lives," even though so little time has passed since the technology came on the market, McNealy said.
Cell phones, television set-top boxes for Internet access and smart cards - many of which already use Java, and automotive systems are just a few of the places the technology will show up before most consumers end up considering an NC purchase, he said. The challenge to the industry is to make all computing as simple as the processes that take place when an electric light switch is flipped and a car is turned on, McNealy added. "When you turn on an automobile today you have 150 microprocessors going into gear. The only computer you use in the course of a day that you don't intuitively know how to use is your Microsoft computer," he said.
Making reference to Sun's legal squabble with Microsoft over the latter's Java implementation, McNealy couldn't resist quipping: "What do you get when you take a cup of coffee and add three drops of poison? Windows."
Asked what would be the ideal outcome of the U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust action against Microsoft, the Sun CEO said "Consumer choice - and I don't mean between Windows 98 and Windows 95.
"What is it about a product being priced at 'free' that is not predatory pricing?" McNealy asked. "And who among you really uses all the code in Windows? They (Microsoft) foist all kinds of stuff on people that they don't really want." Also, no prospective operating system or browser start-up would obtain venture capital funding in a market dominated by Microsoft, he added.
In a press conference following the address, McNealy said he does not favour government regulation of software design, but simply wants the Justice Department to "do its job" in terms of enforcing antitrust laws. He said he doesn't want the government to do anything to Microsoft, but simply wants the laws enforced. "Do you think the government is 'doing something to you' when you get a speeding ticket?" he asked. "They're just enforcing the law."