Microsoft officials have accused Sun Microsystems. and the International Standards Organization (ISO) of covering up key early correspondence in the process to standarise Java.
In the latest round of what has become a campaign against the Java standardisation process, Microsoft has alleged that Sun and the ISO Java Technical Committee (JTC) reneged on a promise to post comments that followed Sun's recent request to control the submission of Java technology as a Publicly Available Specification (PAS) to ISO. To date, PAS submitter status has been granted only to nonprofit industry groups.
Sun has about 60 days to respond to JTC member comments. After receiving Sun's responses, JTC members have 45 days to determine whether to reiterate or change their original votes.
"[The alleged lack of disclosure] seems to fly in the face of the principles of an open standards process," stated Charles Fitzgerald, Microsoft program manager for its Internet client and collaboration division, in a letter sent to the press and analysts.
However, an official at the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the US representative to ISO, says full disclosure is not required.
"Certain documents are available only to the principal groups involved," says Lisa Rajchel, director of the International Secretariats and administrator of ISO's JTC Secretariat at ANSI, in New York.
According to one analyst, Microsoft's shrill accusation was extreme, but somewhat justified.
"There's no formal process for completely open access that I know of in anything that Sun's ever done on Java," says John Rymer, an analyst at the Giga Information Group, a market-research company in Massachusetts. "[But] how can any organisation that's trying to create something that's standard do that by excluding the world's largest software company? It's an attempt from a group of vendors united by their fear and loathing of Microsoft."
JavaSoft officials say the decision to publish the comments and responses rests with ISO.
"We agree with Microsoft. We would like to see votes, comments, and responses posted openly, as long as it doesn't bias the proceedings," says George Paoli, director of marketing at JavaSoft. "I think that might be ISO's concern, but we are going to approach them. I think that Microsoft is implying that there is something afoot here, and there isn't."