US ISO committee rejects Sun's Java gatekeeper bid

The US delegation to the International Standards Organisation (ISO) has voted against Sun Microsystems' proposal to become the official gatekeeper of Java. ISO's US Technical Advisory Group voted against Sun's application to become a 'Publicly Available Specification Submitter' (PAS), the first hurdle Sun has in order to submit the Java specifications to the ISO in an effort to get it sanctioned as an official standard. To date, Australia, Denmark, France, Hungary, Sweden, and the UK have approved Sun's application and 20 nations, including New Zealand, have yet to vote.

The US delegation to the International Standards Organisation (ISO) has voted against Sun Microsystems' proposal to become the official gatekeeper of Java.

Representatives of ISO's US Technical Advisory Group meeting in Redmond, Washington, voted against Sun's application to become a "Publicly Available Specification Submitter" (PAS), the entity in charge of maintenance of the Java specifications. PAS status has mostly been awarded to independent industry consortia and organisations, but ISO rules don't preclude a for-profit company from becoming a PAS.

Obtaining PAS status is the first hurdle Sun has in order to submit the Java specifications to the ISO in an effort to get it sanctioned as an official standard, Sun officials said.

The US vote is one of 27 votes that are being tallied by the ISO before a Nov. 14 deadline. To date, Australia, Denmark, France, Hungary, Sweden, and the UK have approved Sun's application. Once all votes are in ISO will decide if there is a consensus either for or against Sun's proposal to be declared a PAS.

If a consensus of ISO members approves Sun's application, Sun will become a Submitter of Publicly Available Specifications and could submit Java platform specifications for review as an international standard, officials at Sun said.

Under Sun's proposal the Java platform -- which includes the Java Virtual Machine, the Java language specifications and the APIs for Java class libraries -- would become an ISO approved standard.

Sun was not happy with the US's vote.

"We are definitely disappointed in the U.S. vote," said George Paolini, director of corporate marketing at Sun's JavaSoft division. "But we remain cautiously optimistic about the process. There are still 20 other nations that have to vote."

Other countries which will vote on Sun's application in the next two weeks include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, and Switzerland.

During the second quarter, in a preliminary evaluation of Sun's application, the US TAG cast a vote of "no, with comments," to request further information from Sun, which was provided by the company. Today the US TAG decided not to reconsider Sun's proposal which leaves the original "no" vote in place, Sun officials said.

At the end of September Sun responded to the concerns of the U.S. TAG and other ISO members raised during a first round of votes in July.

Also in September Microsoft, Compaq, Digital and Intel sent an open letter to Sun asking the company to turn over ownership of its Java development language to an international standards body, and give up the rights to the Java trademark. Sun rejected the letter as a pure public relations stunt.

Sun maintains that Java is already a de facto industry standard for writing cross-platform applications and that development of the specifications has been an open process involving the entire industry.

In addition, Sun's desire to get ISO approval for Java is driven by customers who need and want to buy ISO approved products, officials said.

If Sun loses the ISO vote the company will maintain the same open process for developing Java technology, which involves input from various other vendors and the developer community as a whole, Sun officials have previously said.

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