Heavy hitters ask Sun to turn over ownership Of Java

Microsoft, Compaq, Digital and Intel have sent a letter to Sun Microsystems asking the company to turn over ownership of its Java development language to an international standards body. The letter addressed to Jim Mitchell, vice president at Sun, comes as the company prepares to resubmit a proposal to the International Standards Organization (ISO), under which Java would become an ISO-sanctioned standard. Under Sun's plan, however, it would keep control of the Java trademark and over revisions to the standard, an objective opposed by many in the industry.

Microsoft, Compaq, Digital and Intel have sent a letter to Sun Microsystems asking the company to turn over ownership of its Java development language to an international standards body.

The letter addressed to Jim Mitchell, vice president at Sun, comes as the company prepares to resubmit a proposal to the International Standards Organization (ISO), under which Java would become an ISO-sanctioned standard. Under Sun's plan, however, it would keep control of the Java trademark and over revisions to the standard, an objective opposed by many in the industry.

Following a vote on Sun's original proposal in July, Sun had 60 days to address concerns raised by ISO members.

In the letter sent last Thursday executives of the four companies urge Sun to turn ownership of Java over to ISO or another international standards body, which then should handle maintenance and evolution of Java along with control of the specification. In addition the letter states that the name Java should be associated with a standard and that implementers meeting conformance to the standard should be free to use it.

Also companies should have the ability to self-test their conformance with the standard, states the letter, which was signed by Robert Stearn, senior vice president at Compaq; Bill Strecker, vice president at Digital; William Swope, vice president at Intel and Bob Muglia, vice president at Microsoft.

"Your response will reveal whether Sun is really committed to the successful transportation of Java to ISO or is just seeking the marketing benefits of ISO recognition without actually transferring control of the technology," the executives said in the letter.

Under its original proposal Sun tried to obtain the status of a Publicly Available Specification (PAS) submitter, which would make Sun the body that has control over the Java specification and revisions to it. This status is usually only awarded to industry organizations, not individual companies.

Sun's new proposal, expected within the next few days, should ensure that the answer to two specific questions are negative, the letter also says. Those questions are: "(1) Does the new submission leave Sun with the veto power over a potential international standard, and (2) Do implementers have to petition Sun to obtain necessary rights to successfully implement the standard now or in the future?"

Sun's Mitchell could not immediately be reached for comment.

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