Upstart Java clone backed by Microsoft

A small software company in Berkeley, California, created a mild stir in the Java world last week when it announced that its independently developed, small-footprint virtual machine for embedded systems will add support for Microsoft extensions.

Transvirtual Technologies CEO Tim Wilkinson said giving developers a choice was the main motive for his Microsoft-backed Kaffe Java clone, announced on the eve of Sun Microsystems' JavaOne conference.

"I wanted to let people implement using whatever tools they like, such as [Microsoft's Visual] J++, and let them deploy on any operating system they like," Wilkinson said.

Transvirtual's independently developed virtual machine and class libraries also support Sun's Java technologies. Microsoft paid Transvirtual to provide extensions to its Kaffe virtual machine, Wilkinson said.

Microsoft's Java extensions have been a source of controversy because they run only on Windows and thwart Java's cross-platform pledge. They have also cropped up in Sun's breach-of-contract suit against Microsoft, a Java licensee.

A federal court's preliminary injunction lets MS ship its own independent Java technology. Independently developed Java clone technology is legal as long as the vendor provides compatible and complete implementations, a Sun spokeswoman said.

"The real issue is standards compliance. If these end up not conforming to the same standard and fracturing it, it's going to end up looking like the Unix market," said Clay Ryder, an analyst at Zona Research in California.

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