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Sun Says Hardware Will Be Free

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the sun-hardware-overpriced-anyway dept.

Sun Microsystems 895

ron_ivi writes "Reuters reports that Sun's President and COO thinks hardware will be free and that people will pay for software subscriptions instead. Reuters quotes Schwartz: 'In our world, you will subscribe to the software and the hardware is free.' 'Directionally, our expectation is that in fiscal 2005 you're going to see a rapid departure from selling hardware, software and services apart.' 'Bill Gates and I agree that within four to five years hardware will be free.' We've recently read here on /. how Gates thinks hardware will be free."

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sdf sfsdf (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305125)

fucking fp sit mother fucker jp rules 1!!

A return to appliances? (5, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305127)

First off, notice the apparent lack of any mention of the free software community in the article. Also, remember the difference between gratis hardware (subsidized by publishers of proprietary software as part of the license fees) and Free hardware (the more general purpose, the more Free).

It appears that like video game console hardware subsidized by licensed game sales, the gratis hardware will probably be locked to the particular applications, turning them into the equivalent of appliances. As publishers of proprietary software shift their business model from running on customer-owned hardware to running on hardware rented from the publisher, does this coming "appliance era" spell the end of affordable general-purpose PC hardware for residential use?

Re:A return to appliances? (5, Insightful)

rsmith-mac (639075) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305181)

And more importantly, how will consumers of such a system be treated? Is it going to be like the console system you describe, or is it going to be something akin to the cell phone market, where you're locked in to multi-year contracts, and locked to specific vendors through the life of the product?

Re:A return to appliances? (5, Insightful)

JudgeFurious (455868) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305207)

I believe it does mean that very thing. "Free" is not going to be a good thing in this particular instance. Free is just going to be a euphamism for "trapped".

I want no part of this.

Re:A return to appliances? (3, Interesting)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305288)

I'm personally reminded of those WebTV boxes of a while back.

IIRC, the software was never in sync with even the commonly used W3C standards. Even in the days when HTML 4.0 was new, WebTV was considered lackluster.

Re:A return to appliances? (3, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305299)

Don't fret too much. By shunting the price of the hardware into the software, Sun is pulling a quick marketing trick to make you think that the hardware is becoming cheap. The reality is that you're still paying the same costs for the hardware and software combo, you're just "feeling good" about it.

With DRM of course (1)

Thinkit4 (745166) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305326)

Much like the locked down nature of consoles.

Free Market (4, Insightful)

Karamchand (607798) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305129)

I don't think the free market, specially normal consumers, will like subscription based goods. They want to pay once and then own the thing they paid for, not pay all the time they use it. Even if you have to "buy it once again" every few years.

Re:Free Market (3, Interesting)

wawannem (591061) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305228)

yeah, you're right dude, I mean, ever since I bought my cable converter outright I refuse to pay any monthly fee.... wait... uhmm... nevermind

Re:Free Market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305277)

so who prefers pay per use over pay once per month and use as much as you want?

Re:Free Market (5, Insightful)

general_re (8883) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305238)

I don't think the free market, specially normal consumers, will like subscription based goods. They want to pay once and then own the thing they paid for, not pay all the time they use it.

I'm constantly amazed by how popular auto leasing is in this country, and how many people are thereby effectively carrying car payments in perpetuity. With that in mind, I think your prognosis is iffy at best.

Re:Free Market (1)

hot_Karls_bad_cavern (759797) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305298)

Parent is right on. This whole idea of what is basically "rented" equipment passed off as "value added" or some other nonsense is NotGood. Plenty of people are smart enough not to lease cars (they buy them and often enjoy modding them), but enough financially retarded folks lease, lose value, lease again, upgrade....wonder if this will fly in the computing industry?

Re:Free Market (5, Insightful)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305305)

Really? Tell that to the people who live in their rented apartments and drive to work in their leased cars while talking on their cell phones that they got for free with a 2-year contract.

Re:Free Market (1)

principor (754410) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305329)

The internet and the increased availability is going to drastically change the way software companies do business. Sure you and I probably don't want to mess with software as a subscription but think about the majority of users. If Microsoft, Sun and IBM can sell them on the idea of free hardware and updated software for a monthly/yearly fee, they'll take it. Look at Netflix [] and Gamefly [] now and then look at them in a couple of years. They're going to be doing well.

FP! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305132)

FP Bitches!

boo (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305133)

white castle 4 evar!

They got it backwards (5, Insightful)

tritone (189506) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305134)

Software will be free and you'll pay for hardware.

Shhh (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305271)

We've already got the (mostly) free software part, let them give us the free hardware and we'll be all set. ;)

Re:They got it backwards (3, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305300)

Pipedream at best. It will continue on the way it is currently. Some people will pay for their hardware and choose to run free software. The rest of the world will run under Billy's rules and regulations and be happy when they can all interact easily with their DRM'd software formats.

Re:They got it backwards (1)

happyfrogcow (708359) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305303)

between IBM and Sun, we'll all be running Linux on Sun hardware in a few years and drinking tropical beverages from our robot butlers.

I kid!

seriously, how can something that costs money to duplicate be free? software is trivial to duplicate. Hardware... not so much. I think Gates & Co. (that includes Sun) are being blatantly stupid and hoping that it gets perceived as being "innovative".

Re:They got it backwards (1)

ruronikenshin83 (661704) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305312)

Isn't software already free?

*cough* LINUX *cough*

But.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305137)

It still can't beat my honda hybrid...

Free Scap Metal (1)

tsunamifirestorm (729508) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305138)

too bad they'll be a contract you have to sign ;-)

first post (-1, Offtopic)

lowder (194305) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305147)

Hard to believe that hardware will really be free -- guess it depends on what kind of hardware.....

I am willing to be a test subject for this (2, Funny)

da_reboot (683601) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305150)

Send me all the free hardware you want!

Re:I am willing to be a test subject for this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305256)

I was constipated this morning, does that count as hardware? - if so, where can I send it?

Yeah, well (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305151)

As long as they're giving hardware away, I'll take a Cisco CRS-1 router and a Beowulf cluster of GeForce 6800s.

I'll expect to take delivery of this equipment right after my Triphibian Atomicar rolls off the transporter from Swift Enterprises.

Seriously... a couple of years ago, Sun was telling us we'd all be running on glorified VT100 terminals. At what point do these clowns lose all credibility?

sdrawkcab (2, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305152)

He's welcome to send me all the free hardware he pleases.

Just an excuse to force DRM adoption. (5, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305153)

Of course they want it to be free. Then they have full justification for a complete and utter lockdown of the hardware via DRM'd BIOS and OS with threats under the DMCA if we try to break it. No true ownership of the hardware by the user is exactly what they want.

Are general computer users going to buy a computer that isn't DRM'd just to use free software? I don't think so. They are going to use what's given to them as part of their OS license fee.

"Run our OS and never have to worry again! Just sign your name right here. The fine print doesn't say anything about selling your soul. Nope, not at all. Right there... That's riiiight."

It would seem that (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305154)

it must be crack which is currently free to executives.

Uh.... (1)

jdavidb (449077) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305156)

I don't think high powered hardware will ever be free, but I haven't thought about this that much.

However, I have believed for a long time now that the subsumption of proprietary software by Free software is inevitable.

So asserting that hardware will be free leaves me in a world where I won't have to pay for anything, except support if I want it. Hmmm....

I want free Sun hardware (2, Funny)

nereid666 (533498) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305158)

where can i get it for free? I want a 15k multi-domain system :-)

Cars will be Free (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305159)

I think cars will be free too.

We will just pay for gas and service.

I think Sun stock will be "free" too, if you know what I mean.

Sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305160)

...didn't Bill Gates say this recently?


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305161)

1000th POST!

I know I'll be redundant as hell... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305162)

But they'd better implement a good Palladium clone if they expect me to pay for software in their free (as in beer) hardware!

Free? (4, Insightful)

FuzzyDaddy (584528) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305164)

I don't think that they really mean hardware will be free - only that it will be a loss leader.

It's funny that the same people who decry free software as killing the economic incentive for software development don't feel the same thing applies to hardware.

Hey Jon... (-1, Redundant)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305165)

...mind hooking me up with that 'free hardware'? I don't need a subscription to your software yet, just the free hardware, thanks.

Finally! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305166)

With free hardware, and open source software, I wont have to *IMAGINE* a beowulf cluster, I'll be able to have one!!!

Now onto my plans for world domination!

oops! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305169)

what if you break the free hardware :x

subsidies (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305172)

Sun is saying that people like software better than hardware, so sell them SW, and subsidize the enabling HW. Like everyone else, they envy the phone biz. But without a network of their own, how will they ensure enough people buy the SW, rather than pirate it, to subsidize the HW? If only the computer were the network, they'd have the right position.

Re:subsidies (1)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305291)

Because the computer will be "licensed" right along with the software. You won't really own it.

Sounds familiar... (4, Insightful)

spikev (698637) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305173)

Didn't we hear this from Sun about 10 years back when they were pushing client-server computing. Look where that got them. Now that serious client-server computing could become a reality, they're going pushing free hardware with another spin on it.

Free Stuff!!! (1)

abrotman (323016) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305177)

So using the free hardware from Sun/MS and my free OS of choice .. I can have a truly free system.

Now if only the people on my block would let me put up a windmill generator.

nc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305179)


Obligatory bash (0, Offtopic)

Grrr (16449) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305180)

Bill Gates and I agree

{ shiver }


is this some kind of joke (1)

wawannem (591061) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305182)

What's really funny to me is that M$ on one hand is spending so much time to bash free/open software, yet, on the other, they are going to now say that hardware will be free in the future. To me, this just seems like another stab in the dark for Sun to find a niche.

No thanks Sun! (3, Insightful)

Ckwop (707653) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305183)

I know that while I have a dollar (well pound really) I'll pay for my own flaming hardware. Because you know that once they've eased this on us your machine will end up being their machine. And once that happens you can be sure as hell that machine is going to make it difficult to run linux or any other operating system.

No thank you Bill & SUN. I want to pay for my hardware thanks because I actually want to own it. This isn't about choice, it's about fattening the pockets of Sir Bill.


Not so. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305184)

Actually, BG said that hardware can be seen as nearly free, considering it in relation to other costs.

Quite the difference.

If hardware were truly gratis then I would order myself a Quad Opteron 150 station and the giving party could expect nothing in return (no, hiding costs in other posts doesn't count. "Buy X, get Y for free!" is actually illegal where I live). Of course, that's absurd.

Personally... (0, Redundant)

vasqzr (619165) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305186)

I'd rather buy the hardware and be able to do what I want with it, instead of having to buy software to make it work.

Then again, free hardware = hacking

Great! (3, Funny)

phraktyl (92649) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305189)

Back it up. Just a little more... A little more... Perfect!

Now, Honey, don't you think that E15K makes a great replacement for that china cabinet we used to have? And all I had to do was purchase a software license for StarOffice!

Who pays? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305190)

Software is easily copied, even with various copy protection schemes. Hardware can't be copied that easily. People are used to only pay for one of the things. So who'll pay for it then?

Works out best... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305191)

MS says hardware will be free, IBM says software will be free. I hope they're both right!

Tell me where to take my moving truck in this twisted reality and I'll prove both companies right all day long.

The more things change... (1)

treehouse (781426) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305196)

This doesn't sound much different from the early days of computing when you rented the hardware and the software was included in the price. (Not really "free", of course.) We moved away from that method because it tended to create monopolies. How a hardware manufacturer will be able to sell a box when M$ is giving them away "free" will be one of the major challenges of such a "free hardware" method.

Free, for a fee (5, Insightful)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305197)

I'm sure Microsoft and Sun won't give me a new Netra or XBox if I call them up.

What Schwartz ("Use the schwartz!") and Gates really mean is, "your software fee will include the hardware fee, and you won't really have a choice about that. Plus, we will add restrictions to the hardware, such as DRM. Thank you, come again!"

better get the contract right... (1)

lawngnome (573912) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305199)

Didnt microsoft try this with msn with "free" hardware for a subscription agreement. Too bad some local laws voided this - Id suggest anyone else trying such things get their contract worded correctly and do enough law research to avoid this in the future.

Maybe for some (1)

principor (754410) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305201)

I don't see this as a viable model for all users. I can see that it might be worthwhile for companies like Sun and Microsoft to give a way low-end computers and bundle the updateable software subscriptions with it (X-Box anyone?) but what about people who want the best of the best? No way companies will start treating high end graphics cards as a commodity.

For servers, which the article seems to be based on, it might work but for the high end niche I just don't see it being doable.

Sun's orbit around Microsoft starts to decay (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305203)

Interesting to see Sun justifying Microsoft's monopolistic view that hardware prices can keep coming down because he won't lower the price for his OS.

They're just trying to get people using to pay more for the OS than the hardware. Think about it. You can build a $300 computer, but you will end up paying $280 to run Windows.

They just have to keep in mind that some software will also be free...

But I'm a hobbyist (2, Interesting)

kneecarrot (646291) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305206)

As a hobbyist who enjoys tinkering inside my machine, I'm really starting to feel like my days are numbered.

With DRM in the bios and computers becoming essentially free appliances will I still be able to tinker in the future?

this makes me think of cell phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305210)

they aren't free but they look free when I buy that subscriptiong. Is MS and SUN trying to make computers work like phones? I like owning my hardware thank you.

That would make the FSF a renegade. (1)

Quebec (35169) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305212)

That's a cheap strategy to make believe that free (as in beer) software would be unsustainable in the future.

It's cheap and ridiculous.

Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305213)

Yes, in the future hardware will be free.

And so will shares of Sun.

Right.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305216)

Seems like to me they are shooting themselves in the foot. There will be a day when all the guys with money understand. Until then, capitalism will continue to prove Darwin wrong.

Hardware won't be free (2, Insightful)

hattig (47930) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305217)

Just subsidised.

I'll still be paying for hardware and running Linux / FreeBSD on it. I'm not paying MS or Sun to get someone else's idea of "good enough" hardware at a per-month contract payment.

Isn't this the old Ma Bell approach? (1)

59Bassman (749855) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305218)

Remember when you got your phone from Ma Bell for free and a monthly bill? I don't think this will work. People complain all of the time about having to upgrade their PC's every few years, but at least after the initial expenditure the pain wears off. Pay-per-month plans will hurt 12 times a year. No thanks.

So, In 4 years.... (1)

VagaDragon (28522) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305219)

I'll be able to visit newegg, get all the computer parts I want for free and then install my fav linux distro? I doubt it.

More then likely the hardware will only run the software when we pay or monthy dues (which they could raise over time, nothing like giving you a year for $99, then after all the data you can't live without is on there, pump the cost up to $99 a month).

No thanks. I'd rather pay a little bit of money and be free to do what I want with a computer then get a free computer and be told what I can do with it.

Make your own free software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305220)

I'm not sure how this would work exactly...

Surely I could just get my free hardware and write my own free software? Software is considerably easier to write than hardware is to make.

That'll be great (1)

tbase (666607) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305224)

So we can have no competition or freedom of choice, like the crap you get from the cable company or sat providers for "free".

Anyone else squirelling away some hardware and software every year or so, "just in case"?

Huh? (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305226)

I can see very *CHEAP* computers being free, a'la internet subscriptions like the eMachines and the like were for a long time, but I cannot see good stuff being free. Hardware vendors have a physical thing to manufacture and they must always consume raw materials to produce these things. Therefore unless software subscription services pay the vendors for the hardware, the user still will directly purchase hardware. Of course, either way the hardware is being bought, we just have a new middleman.

I like open source and free software because I can buy any class and kind of machine that I can afford and run software that doesn't cost anything on it. I can go without upgrading for five years if I really want to and if the hardware will meet the needs. I'd rather spend $2000 every few years than shell out a monthly rate and be dependent on whatever crap the subscription service provides.

Counter-Intuitive (5, Insightful)

philovivero (321158) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305231)

Those guys are geniuses. Hardware will be free. Software will cost money.

Because making hardware is as simple as typing "cp SunE450 SunE450.2" and making new software requires factories, tooling up, shipping, and maintenance.

I disagree. I think both Microsoft and Sun will become obsolete and useless as they continue to try to trap people into their DRM and obsolete-by-design software while manufacturers of good hardware will continue to make some money, and software will become more and more Libre ("free").

I think that the only money that will come in from software will be from developers and coders that maintain existing Open Source software, and create novel new Open Source software for contract (hourly wages).

But I'm just a lowly DBA, not a forward-thinking visionary overpaid stuffed-shirt like these guys, so by all means, bank your future on their brilliance.

repeat after me (1)

DoctorDeath (774634) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305232)

This is the same story out of a different mouth. All the large companies (except maybe big blue) keep trying to push this very same idea down our throats. Yeah yeah yeah, We will give you the hardware but the software, licenses and updates are going to cost you the equivalent of two years salary. Lull us with the free offer upfront, then stab us in the wallet later.

Free hardware eh? (2, Insightful)

Xpilot (117961) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305239)

'In our world, you will subscribe to the software and the hardware is free.'

I have a better proposal. You give me the free hardware, and I don't subscribe to your software and write my own. Eh, does that violate some law somewhere?

ooooohh a free E15K (1)

drizst 'n drat (725458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305243)

Okay Sun, I'll take ya up on this. Please send me one (no no ... make that TWO) free Enterprise 15000. Enclosed you will find the address to ship these too ... thanks Sun, you're alright!

Worst theory ever. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305244)

What the fuck are these morons smoking?


Q: If it takes 10 hours to manufacture and assemble all the parts needed to make one computer, how manyhours does it take to manufacture 100 computers?

A: 1000 hours.


Q2: If it takes 10 hours to deploy all the code needed to make one software service, how many hours does it take to deploy 100?

A2: 10 hours.


The class which has the means of material production at its disposal has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. (Marx & Engels: The German Ideology, cited in Curran et al. 1982: 22).

Software will never supecede hardware.

Free hardware will be shitty hardware. (1)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305248)

Sun will still want $3 million a year from the medium sized company, for this "subscription" software... but they'll have no true incentive to build decent hardware. The beancounters only see direct revenue, and because of that, hardware will be as cheap as they can get away with.

Already the case for cell phones... (1)

Burnon (19653) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305251)

This has been the case for cell phones for some time - if you purchase a phone with a contract, your initial investment for the handset itself is subsidized by the contract. It's the service that you pay for.

Simple hardware platforms don't lend themselves to incoming revenue. PC's have not been simple for a long time - RAM, disk, video cards, new LAN, USB stuff, etc., but there's got to be a business case for simpler PCs. Selling an expandable PCI chassis to my Dad and 99% of corporate and home users is a waste of resources. Instead, get the price down with a one-size-fits-all product, and then sell him something (service) that turns into a revenue stream...

Someone should make a note of this nonesense (1)

boxless (35756) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305253)

and then ask him about it in a couple of years when it *hasn't* come true.

Isn't this the same old tired cliche: 'back in the day, they used to give the software away... now it's the other way round!'

And, 'I'm such a perceptive genius, even the richest man in the world agrees with me!'

Nothing new here, move along.

sed 's/free/rented/g' (2, Interesting)

Darth RadaR (221648) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305255)

I wonder... If I stop paying my "subscription", will a van will stop by and repo my hardware?

this makes no economic sense (2, Insightful)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305260)

This makes no economic sense for anyone except for the people selling software.

Software is the cheapest thing to produce in terms of what needs to go into it physically besides R&D. People have to pay whatever (artificially set) price the company sets, as without software, hardware is just a large paper weight.

Hardware, on the other hand, is the more expensive side of the equation: there's only so much profit margin available, as people are only willing to pay a certian amount.

I can see people like him and BG saying "hardware will be free" because that's what they want to see - then there will be more money available for software licenses. This is completely impractical until the massive investment required simply to fabricate hardware is negligible - in other words, it's unlikely to happen anytime within the next 10 years.

If anything, market trends are going the other way entirely. I'm not sure why Sun would be that concerned - they've traditionally had some incredible hardware - but MS has everything to lose in a commodity market.

Sun best stick to their recently-stated purpose of having an Apple-like setup, where they sell the hardware and the OS sales. The OS in use is insignificant, really, IMO - they just need something that works well on their hardware. That might be their OS, and it might be Linux.

Wrong (5, Insightful)

Bertie (87778) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305263)

For one simple reason. Hardware's tangible, software isn't. No matter what these guys do, people will always struggle to get their heads round the idea of paying for software, because it doesn't take up space in their room and can be reproduced ad infinitum. Same goes for music, films, etc., and I'd say it always will. If the Suns and Microsofts of the world don't start accepting this and going with the flow, they're sunk.

I mean, here I am working on my PC (which I bought and put together myself) running Gentoo (which I downloaded and didn't pay a brass farthing for). Microsoft sell as many copies of Windows as they do because they bundle them with new hardware. Who do you know who's ever bought a copy of Windows off the shelf? If the PC came out of the factory with no OS and I wanted to put Windows on it, I'd ask around till I found a friend with a pirate copy - there's just no way I'd haul myself to a shop to buy one. Yeah, yeah, I know it's not right, but that's the way it is, and these guys should embrace it instead of fighting it.

Free Hardware?! (1)

CertifiedBomb (774993) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305265)

Doesn't this kind of go against the business model of selling support for software instead of the software itself... and lets face it if sun decided to give away free workstations to everyone i would quite happily stick *nix on there instead of the undoutably overpriced version i was supposed to buy.

Free hardware = OSS Paradise! (1)

Garridan (597129) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305270)

Free hardware + Free software = free computing! Awesome. Microsoft is going to shoot itself straight through the foot with this plan.

marriage of convenience (1)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305273)

hmm.. lets see.. sun, who makes hardware and software gets
a few billion from Billy G, who only makes software. Weeks
later Sun proclaims 'hardware will be free, but not software'.

Seems to me more likely the other way around for all but the
most complex (and of limited user based) applications given
the open source movement.

Here comes the DRM (2, Insightful) (184378) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305276)

Will the hardware really be "free"? Or will it just be the medium upon which the software is provided (and runs of course)?

If the hardware is actually free, and I own it, then that might not be so bad. I do expect it to be DRM'd to death, and basically only be usable with the software provided.

But if it's not free, and it's merely rented to you (at no charge), then breaking the DRM on your own box will definitely land you in hot water.

Is this the Microsoft method to combating free software? That just seems like a losing battle... I can make unlimited copies of my Linux CDs, but it is physically impossible to "copy" a PC. So yes, they can produce PCs for a very low (marginal) cost, but the marginal cost of a PC will still be many times more than the marginal cost of copying a Linux install CD or disk image.

While support contracts may be one way to make money with free software, and even with proprietary or non-free software, I can't imagine this as anything more than a ploy to force a subscription model and DRM'd hardware down the customers' throats.

So what? Wake me when beer and pizza are free. (1)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305278)

That is what sustains this industry. All hardware is free if you wait long enough.

Another Gates prediction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305279)

Like most of Gate's predictions.... it's either painfully obvious or he is just plain wrong.

I want a new drug... [Huey Lewis] (1)

Roadkills-R-Us (122219) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305280)

So, does this mean that when my flying car and jetpack *finally* arrive, they'll be free, too?

Can I get a free Cray today?

How about a free car? How much will the subscription service for its software be, I wonder? Or does firmware not count?

Free software *and* free hardware! Yow!

Comrades, paradise on earth is almost here, da!

Interesting how failure in one sector is paid... (1)

RhettLivingston (544140) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305282)

for by another. Essentially, Sun and Microsoft have announced that they don't think they can come up with the next generation apps (the fully immersive/pervasive computer generation) that will need next generation hardware. Thus, the hardware market will collapse. It's no wonder that Intel has been funding next generation software tech startups so much lately. The other big boys have now announced their intention to cash in on Intel's pie.

"In our world..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305284)

So Mr. Schwartz, what colour is the sky in your world?

HELP!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305285)

The earth is flat; the moon is made of cheese; and the sky is falling. Will the insanity ever end!?

Hardware will be free, oh, and 640k is enough (1)

Sanity (1431) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305289)

I suspect that claim might fall into a similar category as Gates' alledged claim that we would never need more than 640k.

Consider someone in 1981 predicting that in 2004 a computer which then costs thousands of dollars would cost just a few thousand dollars. They might be minded to make a similar prediction, but it would miss the point that people in 2004 would not be satisfied with such a computer, and would want something orders of magnitude more powerful.

Today's top of the range PC might be less powerful than something that costs $10 in 10 years, but you can be sure that by then people will want computers vastly more powerful that still cost about the same as today's desktop PCs.

the linux way: all your hardware are belong to us (1)

ongeboren (734626) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305290)

or the microsoft way: all your software are belong to us.

Damn!! I STILL don't know what step 2 is!! (1)

gavri (663286) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305293)

1) Get free software from GNU and free hardware from Sun
2) ????
3) Profit

It all depends on how who says it... (1)

NickV (30252) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305295)

The hardware guys say that all software will be free, and the software guys say that one day all hardware will be free.

That isn't surprising. Both sides probably trivalize the aspects of the other side's creation (firmware guys are probably just skitzo and telling themselves they are useless, period.)

Both sides need to realize that their counterparts create important, value-added things that are complicated. A software OS developer can't develop a good CPU (and needs one!) and a hardware designer can't code a great OS (but needs one for his chip!)

Both sides are needed. Intel's CEO had a great interview [] on ZDNet today, and he basically seems to "get it."

of course that's what he's going to say (2, Interesting)

Cheeze (12756) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305296)

Sun doesn't make any money off of hardware, their cash crop is selling software services.

Those guys need to stand up and smell the roses. hardware will NOT be free because it will take resources to produce it. If you expend resources, you are going to want to recoup those costs by charging the end user for spending time to develop and produce the hardware product.

Software is the part that is easily reproduced, and can easily be made free.

Sun and Microsoft are software vendors (Yeah, Sun makes hardware, but they shouldn't if you ask me). They both make money in the software, so it is in their best interest to spin their technology the way that makes them the most money, even if that is pulling the wool over the eyes of their customers.

Hardware not really free, just paid for monthly. (2, Insightful)

Sxooter (29722) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305304)

The hardware will NOT be free. The cost will simply be rolled into the price of the software. This is simply a marketing ploy to try and lock people into non-open hardware with cheap up front costs that just keep repeating over and over.

It's not gonna work, but I'm sure Sun and Microsoft are gonna try anyway.

Give me a break. (1, Insightful)

bludstone (103539) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305315)

You mean the thing you can copy perfectly at zero cost an inifite number of times is going to be the thing you pay for, yet the super-complex physical object is the one that will be free?

I'm sorry, I dont buy it.

You can _offer_ that, but I dont think it will take off. I believe the potential was there, but right now open source software is on a roll. Firefox being the frontrunner.

With the upcoming economic crunch (due to raising gas prices) people are going to be cutting corners everywhere. Getting used hardware and running free software on it is a friggin _fantastic_ low cost method of running your server/office client/game machine/whatever.

Perfect! (2, Funny)

Cyberllama (113628) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305316)

I'll take their free hardware and run my free software on it.

Sun cant afford to give shit away for free... (1)

wobedraggled (549225) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305319)

Lol, good luck to them on that. it's all I've got right now, it's early afternoon and I'm burnt :)

if hardware is free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305320)

then this means you're simply going to pay 700 for a computer, the hardware will be free... but the "software" costs 700. riiiiight.

basically it's a ploy to lock people into operating systems.

if you buy software and the computer comes with it, what does this mean for linux? it means it becomes compulsory to buy linux to get a computer, therefore making linux cost money, therefore eliminating a major different between windows and linux.

then windows can say "hey, look, linux costs just as much!", the only difference being that windows will come ON computers, whereas linux still won't.

you don't understand this post, i barely do, it's too complicated, i don't know what i wrote, maybe it makes sense, but i doubt it.
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