Microsoft missing from Sun's Pure Java initiative

While Sun was able to muster more than 100 companies to support its '100% Pure Java' campaign at Internet World in New York earlier this week, the proverbial 800-pound-gorilla was missing: Microsoft.

While Sun was able to muster more than 100 companies to support its "100% Pure Java" campaign at Internet World in New York earlier this week, the proverbial 800-pound-gorilla was missing: Microsoft.

The education, testing and certification campaign was sparked by Sun's JavaSoft division. It aims to ensure users that certified Java applications do not use any code in another language or take advantage of any underlying operating system APIs -- that is, to make good on Java's promise that developers can "write once, run anywhere".

"An application branded '100% Pure Java' is guaranteed to run on any platform branded Java-compatible," says Alan Baratz, president of JavaSoft, during the Internet World announcement.

Apple, IBM, Netscape and Oracle topped the list of vendors signing on to the hastily-assembled initiative. Microsoft was contacted over the past few days and invited to join the campaign, as were the other vendors, Baratz says. Microsoft says it would discuss the campaign internally, but JavaSoft did not hear back from it before the announcement, Baratz says.

Microsoft has committed to delivering a compatible implementation of the Java virtual machine in the Win-32 operating system, Baratz says. But it is Microsoft's choice whether to "evangelise" platform-independent computing with pure Java, or to evangelise "proprietary lock-ins".

"It has developed some extensions that we call 'proprietary lock-ins'," Baratz says. "If you use those extensions, your program will only run in the Windows environment and that is not in the spirit of Java."

An analyst says that Microsoft's support would be key to the campaign's success, as would customer demand for the certification. Customers may be more successful at moving Microsoft to commit to pure Java than an industry alliance, however, he says.

"You can't force it," says Bob Lewin, principal analyst, workgroup computing, at Dataquest, a Gartner Group company headquartered in San Jose, California. "But what you can do is get the bananas the 800-pound gorilla eats to say, 'We want this.' "

Sun officials have cautioned that not too much should be read into the list of vendors supporting the initiative, saying that others would join within the coming weeks. The testing and branding and educational campaign will be introduced in the first quarter of next year, officials say.

Among the campaign participants, Netscape announced that its Windowing Internet Foundation Classes, launched yesterday, have been designated as a graphical user interface environment that can be used to build 100% pure Java applications.

Sun has unveiled several Java-based products and enhancements this week, including the following:

* Java API enhancements. JavaSoft unveiled the Java Transaction Services API, the Java Speech API and the Java Media Framework API specification. IBM and Tandem Computers assisted with the transaction API; the speech API was developed with Apple, Dragon Systems, IBM, Novell, Philips, Sun and Texas Instruments.

* Java Server. The new line of multiplatform server products includes the Java Web Server, the Java NC Server, which supports the JavaOS and the HotJava Views productivity environment and a Java Server Toolkit for developing custom servers in Java. The Web server is available on Sun's Web site (http://www.java.sun.com/java-server/) in a beta version; the final version will be available early next year from the site. The toolkit will be licensed to developers, and the NC server will ship in the middle of next year.

* JavaBeans Development Kit. The beta version will be released on December 16, available free to developer's on the Web (http://www.java.sun.com/beans).

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