The Java War between Microsoft and Sun Microsystems has opened new fronts of silliness.
First there was the "report" on a Microsoft developer conference in Paris last week which was circulated widely through Java newsgroups and on Sun's own mailing lists. Computerworld received it from two different sources.
The author claimed that a Microsoft conference presentation called 'A word on Java' prompted widespread jeering from the audience and a walkout which left only 50 of the original 1200 developers in the room. The story was even retold in public by Alan Baratz, president of Sun Microsystems' JavaSoft business,
But Francois Lambel and Elizabeth Heichler, writing for IDG's Infoworld Electric, painted a slightly different picture. They said a French reporter had determined that the dwindling crowd was the result of boredom rather than outright rebellion. Jeering and cries of "allez Java" came from about a dozen people who all sat together.
Lambel and Heichler drily noted that Baratz told the story straight after delaring that "now is the right time for us to cut through all the rhetoric."
But Microsoft is hardly smelling of roses. Its online publication, Slate - much vaunted for its editorial independence when it was launched a year ago - seems to have been harnessed into the general drive to spread doubt about Java. Last week, Slate's consumer-angled Webhead column was a piece by Microsoft developer Andrew Shuman about "why you should hate" Java.
Shuman said Java "makes it even easier for developers to write big, slow programs when they should becompletely focused on the end user." His column linked to Slate's Motley Fool column, which was an attack on Sun's business model for Java.
Or, at least, we think it was. Slate couldn't serve the page because it suffered one of those irritating Active Server Platform errors (ASP 0115, if you're interested). Yes, this really is the company which banished Java applets from its site for "performance reasons".