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Java jumps to operating systems

All major operating systems to build-in support for Java

By Elinor Mills, IDG News Service

May  1996
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The inclusion of the Java object-oriented programming language in a range of operating systems will ease cross-platform development for all applications and will free users from the hegemony of the Windows operating system, according to observers.

Sun Microsystems Inc. announced at Internet World here this week that Microsoft Corp., Apple Computer Inc., IBM, Novell Inc., Silicon Graphics Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., The Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) Inc., Hitachi Ltd. and Tandem Computers Inc. will embed Java in their operating systems, making the language accessible to developers of those platforms and to end users.

An executive at Apple, which competes with the massive Windows installed base for which most applications are written first, made it clear that Java in the operating system will make all software development platform-independent.

"Java is an integral part of all operating systems and available to all applications," said Larry Tesler, vice president of Internet platforms at Apple, in a conference call about the announcement. "It will level the playing field for operating systems."

At least one Java developer agreed.

"Until now, all the press Java has been getting is as a Web development language. Suddenly it's a real, viable language to do any software development," said Ian McFarland, cofounder of Neo Communication, a Web publisher in San Francisco.

"There's no reason why people can't write full applications in Java and port them to different platforms. This idea that you need to wait until software is available for your machine" is an idea that will become obsolete, he said. "Now, software will be easily available for every environment that supports Java."

Java has other subtle advantages, McFarland said, including its native support for networking and the fact that it reduces time to market for developers, particularly for multiplatform development.


Sun will announce new APIs (application programming interfaces) at the first JavaOne Conference, May 29-31 in San Francisco, said Bill Joy, founder of Java creator Sun Microsystems and vice president of research at Sun's JavaSoft division, in his keynote yesterday. The APIs, he said, "will allow people to write full applications that can be downloaded over the Net."

Under the new model, JavaSoft will license the Java Virtual Machine and class libraries to the operating system companies, which will then provide the Java implementation for their platform and expose Java as binaries in the operating system.

The licensees get the Java source code and can modify the Java reference implementations within their own operating system environments, but JavaSoft retains the right to license the source code to developers and others, said Alan Baratz, president of JavaSoft.

Sun will "encourage extensions or improvements to the Java platform and ask that specifications be made open and returned to JavaSoft for incorporation back into the reference implementation" for sharing with all licensees, said Baratz.

A future Sun announcement related to new markets for Internet terminals, consumer devices and embedded controllers, will involve "a version of the Java platform that can live directly on the hardware," he said.

Baratz also said that incorporating Java into the operating system will enable real-time transaction processing. "Java applets can now establish direct connections themselves to the system and invoke objects through the CORBA architecture and execute remotely," to transfer data, he said.

The newest licensees announced their Java intentions in the teleconference and in press releases:

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