Aiming to loosen Microsoft's hold on the software market for education, rival Sun Microsystems is now offering schools an extensive collection of applications—from network and desktop operating system software to internet development tools—as well as quarterly refreshes and web-based training, all for less than $500 per year.

"Sun is giving back to academic and research institutions by providing low-cost access to software that will better equip today's students for tomorrow's workplace—and by making sure that educational institutions are never more than a few months behind on technology refreshes and are never obsolete," said Jonathan Schwartz,

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