The latest volley in the war of words over Java comes from the fledgling Java Lobby, which last week fired off a cease-and-desist letter to Microsoft Corp. Chairman and CEO Bill Gates, demanding that he stop trying to derail efforts to standardise the Java language.
Rick Ross, a founding member of the Java Lobby, sent the open letter to Gates and asked that he stop trying to splinter efforts to standardise Java. The group also asked that he fully support Java Foundation Classes and the advanced APIs that are expected in the upcoming JDK 1.2.
By late last week, Ross says, no one from Microsoft had as yet responded to his letter. But he says he has heard from thousands of developers and said about 1,600 of them had joined the lobby in less than four days and that hundreds were offering to volunteer.
The Java Lobby is an independent group of Java developers who want to promote write-once-run-anywhere capabilities. Sun Microsystems. isn't involved in the group. Ross, a 17-year developer, is president of Activated Intelligence LLC, a small, independent developer based in New York.
"Microsoft licensed Java in the spring of '96, and they sent a signal to the whole world that they would support Java," Ross says. "That gave us the go-ahead to support Java, too. Now that we are, Microsoft has turned its back on us. What happens to our investments, our lives, our families, our companies?"
Cornelius Willis, director of platform marketing at Microsoft, says he plans to respond to Ross, but his message probably isn't what Ross wants to hear.
"This guy is hanging on a limb," Willis says. "Anybody riding on Java is, and that's very sad ... and there will be lots more disappointed as they realise how bad it's going to get."
Willis placed all blame on Sun Microsystems, which is leading the Java push. "We're not in a position to ship any technology they throw at us. We're not interested in providing a fat layer on top of Windows. It's just not going to happen."
The lobby wasn't the only group to give Java its support last week. A slew of companies announced that they had signed up to license PersonalJava, the light version of the full programming language. Personal and Embedded Java both have smaller footprints, so they can run on smaller devices, such as pagers, cellular telephones and even locks and rings.
Lucent Technologies Inc., Microtec, Microware, QNX and Windriver Systems, as well as Acorn, Chorus and GeoWorks, all signed on to use Personal or Embedded Java.