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Sun Microsystems is discontinuing its radical “try and buy” program, through which it was handing over hardware from across its portfolios to end users for 60-day trials.

The program is unique in that the user got brand-new equipment ranging from the Sun Ultra 27 Workstation (MSRP $2,914) to the SPARC Enterprise T5440 Server (MSRP $89,895), along with full technical support. To avoid being charged, customers only need to return the product in its original condition.

Sun will honor applications for the program that are received by the close of business Friday, Dec. 18.

Presumably, leads generated from the program are being passed through to Sun partners for fulfillment and upselling. However, some partners have said that the program isn’t performing as expected because end users are reluctant to even enter a free trial without having a budget.

Are free trials on new equipment a good way of generating leads, and should other vendors try similar programs?