Within two weeks, IBM will ship beta code for a Java Virtual Machine for Microsoft's Windows 3.1 operating system, allowing Java's distributed computing model to be extended to the still-dominant Windows 3.1 platform.
"We will ship the Java Virtual Machine beta code within two weeks," says David Gee, marketing manager for Java at IBM. "This brings Java-enabled applications to the Windows 3.1 desktop."
IBM has taken more than a passing interest in Sun's Java language. "We believe we have more people doing Java development than anyone else," Gee says of Big Blue. "We expect to have a much stronger and closer relationship with Sun's JavaSoft division in the future," he says.
To date, Java capabilities on Microsoft desktops has been limited to those running the 32-bit Windows 95 and Windows NT Workstation.
That, Gee says, is overlooking the dominant percentage of desktops still running the older Windows 3.X OS. "We think we are in the right place at the right time," he says. "We realise this isn't a permanent market, but it is a sizable one." IBM will also ship a beta version of HotJava, Sun's Java-enabled browser, for the Windows 3.1 platform "within eight weeks", Gee says.
"This will in no way compete with browsers from Microsoft or Netscape," Gee says. "It will allow Windows 3.1 users to view Java-enabled sites, but they will have to have this second browser."
IBM's effort to port Java to Windows 3.1 is only part of IBM's big Java push. This week, IBM's Taligent Division is to announce it is licensing its technology and frameworks to Sun's JavaSoft. The company will announce a major licensing agreement with Sun's JavaSoft division to provide native language support for Java, allowing Java applets to operate in multiple languages.
Also this week, IBM and SunSoft will announce a licensing agreement for SunSoft's Joe development environment for IBM's MQ series.
Gee says IBM is going far beyond the Windows 3.1 platform in its Java Virtual Machine development efforts. "Our objective is to Java-enable every key operating system IBM has," Gee says, declining to further elaborate.
Since IBM owns Lotus, and Lotus products run on 10 different platforms, IBM may well become a virtual factory for Java Virtual Machines. Gee isn't commenting on future IBM Java developments involving Lotus.
IBM is at http://www.ibm.com/.