Sun's CEO, Scott McNealy has fallen on his sword, paying the price for Sun's recent poor set of results. The beleagured boss handed in his resignation on the same day that the company reported another loss for its last fiscal quarter.

The company, which recorded a loss of a whopping $217m in the third quarter, has appointed its president and COO, Jonathan Schwartz, as the new CEO. Last year, in the equivalent quarter, the company posted $28m.

The only bright spot for Sun was that revenue for the quarter was up on the equivalent quarter last year; a turnover of $3.2bn reflecting a 21 percent increase - although this included the company's recent StorageTek acquisition.

Sun has failed to recover from the end of the dot-com boom, and the company has posted a string of losses or near break-even results over the past five years. With its stock also suffering, in recent weeks there had been growing speculation that a shake-up was coming to the company.

The company was slow to realise the threat posed by x86 systems, but has since worked to change course, developing new servers and increasing the capability of its Sparc systems with multi-threaded, multi-core chips that run at low wattage.

The change in leaders announced Monday "indicates that the financial market had finally come to the end of the patience more than anything," said Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT, in Hayward, Calif., "The company has had a really tough time over the last three or four years."

McNealy has also had a public presence as one of the more visible figures in the industry and was often outspoken, especially when the company was involved in antitrust litigation with Microsoft. "In a way, a high profile can be as much of a curse as it is a blessing," said King.

He called Schwartz's appointment "a conventional choice. It's a Sun-friendly choice," he said. "He is a new enough face that I think the investors can probably live with it for a year, but he's really going to be under a microscope."