This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

-- From The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot, 1925

Maybe you expected Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ:JAVA) to make a grand show of its demise. We're getting none of that. Instead, the former high-tech superstar is slipping away quietly, in the dark of night, leaving nothing behind but what-ifs and woulda, coulda, shoulda scenarios. Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) is buying a fallen star.

Oracle's acquisition of Sun is expected to close "this summer," assuming that regulators and shareholders approve. I don't see any reason why they wouldn't. There is some overlap between the companies' products and services, but hardly enough to raise regulatory eyebrows and hackles, and Sun is not likely to find a better exit deal anywhere else.

I still think that IBM (NYSE:IBM) would have been a better fit for Sun. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) is also pretty close to what Sun really wanted to be, with a finger in every pie at the data center. Even Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) would have made more sense as a buyer than Oracle, with its newfound love of server systems -- but this is what we're all stuck with now.

That's because Sun's possibly last-ever report showed few signs of life. Sales plummeted by 20% year over year to $2.6 billion, and last year's $0.04 GAAP loss per share ballooned to $0.27 per share. A year ago, Sun produced a healthy $267 million of free cash flow. Today, that torrent is reduced to a trickle at $58 million.

Nothing in this report is likely to pull IBM back to the negotiating table, or anyone else, for that matter. The period was so uninspiring that the customary analyst call was canceled, and there are no management quotes whatever in the report. It looks like these guys have given up. There will be no last-minute bidding war, and you might as well sell your shares today. I can think of plenty more rewarding places to invest your cash for the time being.

Sun is going out with a whimper, not a bang.

Further fickle Foolishness:

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings or a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.