Microsoft brushes off Java developers' request

A group of independent software developers calling themselves the Java Lobby has asked Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates to embrace the Java platform in an open letter to Microsoft. The Java Lobby, formed by software developer Rick Ross, asked Microsoft if its forthcoming Internet Explorer 4.0 software will support full Java compatibility. Microsoft has reiterated that it has no intention of building Sun's Java Foundation Classes into its products. A Microsoft official describes the developers belief in Java's cross-platform promise as 'sad' but insists that 'our version is the most compatible implementation of Java on the market.'

A group of independent software developers calling themselves the Java Lobby has asked Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates to embrace the Java platform in an open letter to Microsoft.

The Java Lobby, formed by software developer Rick Ross, asked Microsoft if its forthcoming Internet Explorer 4.0 software will support full Java compatibility.

While Sun's Java specification includes Java Foundation Classes (JFCs) APIs, Microsoft has opted to provide its own set of APIs called Application Foundation Classes (AFCs), thus introducing incompatibilities, industry observers argue.

"By introducing its own Java, Microsoft is breaking portability," says Rick Ross, founder of the Java Lobby. "If you break portability, you break Java, and Microsoft knows that."

However, Microsoft officials say the company has no intention of building JFCs into its products.

"It's a very sad situation that developers believe that Java will deliver on its cross-platform promise, regardless of what Microsoft does," says Cornelius Willis, Microsoft's director of platform marketing. "But despite this, our version is the most compatible implementation of Java on the market, according to Sun's own compatibility tests."

Some independent software developers are disappointed by Microsoft's decision to use AFCs.

"The statement that the Java Lobby is making is right on. Microsoft's introduction of AFCs introduces incompatible versions of Java," says Barry Burke, vice president of product marketing for Applix, a Java application-development tool developer. "It's not that Java applets won't run on Microsoft software; it's just that they will run slower."

This means that ISVs have to develop for both AFC- and JFC-compliant software, Burke says.

"This is all a bunch of religious hoo-ha," says Harry Fenick, vice president of Zona Research, in California. "The problem is that Java is not up to the mark, and Microsoft has had to optimize it for Windows."

The Java Lobby, in New York, is at http://www.javalobby.com/.

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IBM Sets Up JavaBeans for Telecom

By Niall McKay

IBM is developing JavaBeans for the telecommunications industry, as well as for the banking and finance, utilities, and insurance industries. JavaBeans are reusable software components.

The telephony JavaBeans govern instructions including phone answering, call forwarding, or interactive voice response, and will allow developers to easily create telephony applications.

The telephony JavaBeans will use the Java Telephony API, developed by Sun, Lucent, Northern Telecom, Intel, IBM, and Novell. They are being developed by IBM's Hursley Facility, in England, and are part of IBM's San Francisco development project.

Other companies developing JavaBeans for telephony include Transarc, Transparency, Uniforce Informatique, and Visigenic.

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Java Gets into Printers and Phones

By Niall McKay

Sun's JavaSoft division will next week post on its Web site its PersonalJava specification and a style guide for building embedded systems. JavaSoft also announced licensing agreements with real-time OS (RTOS) vendors such as Acorn, Chorus, GeoWorks, Lucent, Microtec, Microware, QNX, and WindRiver. Through the deals, the vendors will integrate PersonalJava and EmbeddedJava into their OSes, allowing them to run Java applications. This will result in a faster time to market because "the RTOS vendors will be able to supply customers with turnkey solutions," said David Spenhoff, JavaSoft's director of product marketing.

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