Java wrangle was storm in teacup

Microsoft must deploy Sun's Java with its operating system from May, and has to provide a download for the technology from March - so says Judge Frederick Motz, of the US District Court in Baltimore.

Microsoft must deploy Sun’s Java with its operating system from May, and has to provide a download for the technology from March — so says Judge Frederick Motz, of the US District Court in Baltimore.

This storm in a teacup has cost millions both for Sun and Microsoft, and has resulted in no practical benefits to either company. It’s just a cynical attempt on behalf of both companies to influence the stock market. A victory in court boosts your stock price, and a loss reduces it, no matter what the victory concerns.

The order means every desktop will now carry the software that will enable Java programs to run. That was never a big deal anyway. If I write a Java application for the desktop I can just bundle the Java runtime environment (JRE) with the application — it’s only about 17MB, so it’s not going to kill me.

Even companies that sell Java development tools, like IBM, Borland and IntelliJ, carry their own copy of the JRE to stave off versioning problems for their developers.

Not even the standardisation this provides will be overly useful. As soon as Sun releases a new version of Java developers will again be forced to bundle the JRE to resolve compatibility issues, just as they do now.

As for running Java in a browser — an issue in the case — it was a bad idea to begin with, and is currently used on less than 1% of websites. You don’t see Macromedia running to the courts to get Flash included in the OS, despite the fact that it’s used in more than 30% of websites.

Java has evolved to become the richest and most powerful enterprise computing server-side development environment in the world. It is without peer, and has no competition. This ruling will have no effect on that whatsoever. On the desktop, where it will make a difference, Java is a psychotic dog — it’s difficult to control, and consumes far too many resources.

If there is anything in this judgement other than an overdose of corporate testosterone then it’s beyond me to see what it is.

Dollery is a Wellington IT consultant. Send letters for publication in Computerworld to Computerworld Letters.

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