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Unlikely Partners Help Preserve Java
By Mitch Wagner From <<Internetweek>>
Despite their legal dispute over Java, there's at least one thing Sun and Microsoft agree on: the need to help Java developers preserve some interoperability across platforms.
Java inventor Sun Microsystems plans Monday to announce an overarching software strategy for building and deploying Internet applications in response to .Net, a similar plan from Microsoft. Java will, of course, be key to Sun's strategy, whereas Microsoft seeks to pursue a dual strategy of supporting Java while attempting to convince developers to switch to Microsoft's competing language, C#.
Microsoft previously introduced its Java User Migration Path to Microsoft.Net, which includes tools for running Java applications on Microsoft platforms, as well as tools and consulting services for rewriting Java applications in C#.
Each vendor's strategy is emerging as Java becomes more important as a tool for developing applications that interoperate among enterprises over the Internet.
Java is no longer the magic bullet that Sun hopes to use to slay Microsoft, but rather it's one component in the effort to build Web services in competition with Microsoft. Other important parts of that effort are included in the Java 2 Enterprise Edition.
"Java is not the be-all and end-all as Sun envisioned. There's also a tacit acceptance and appreciation on Microsoft's part that Java is a key component of Web services," said Forrester Research analyst Joshua Walker. Microsoft's and Sun's decision to settle their legal dispute over Java occurred because it was becoming a distraction, he added.
In the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., Sun charged Microsoft with violating its Java license by adding proprietary extensions that made its version incompatible with others. Microsoft last month agreed to pay Sun $20 million, terminate its Java license and refrain from using the Java trademark. Microsoft will, however, be allowed to continue to support its own Java implementation, J++, which is based on an old version of Java. Microsoft won't be able to update J++ beyond bug fixes.
The settlement is important in that it requires Microsoft to stop altering Java, said David Pensak, an IT manager who researches advanced computing technology for petrochemical giant E.I. DuPont de Nemours Inc. "When Microsoft started modifying Java, that to me was a desecration of a beautiful piece of technology. I'm glad they got their wrist slapped."
Developer Jay Burgess, senior software engineer with Delano Technology Corp., said Java does not enjoy the perfect portability that early proponents claimed, yet its portability is still very good. Delano Technology uses Java to write its customer relationship management applications on Windows NT workstations, then transfer that software to run on more expensive Sun servers with only limited testing. If Microsoft won't support Java, Delano can use third-party tools and then distribute those tools along with its own CRM software.
"I'm a developer who's happy with the ability to maintain a single source-code stream and allow users to deploy on whatever platform they want," Burgess said.
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