Liberté, Fraternité...et Java?
Boredom, not FUD clears Microsoft developers from room
Boston (September 25, 1997) -- If there's another French revolution brewing, it probably won't involve Bill Gates being carted off to the guillotine amid cries of "Vive Java!"
A story that Alan Baratz, president of Sun Microsystems Inc.'s JavaSoft business, told at a press conference this week painted the picture of large crowd of French developers booing an anti-Java presentation at a recent Microsoft developers conference in Paris. But the tale doesn't seem to hold up when checked with developers who were there.
According to Baratz, "At the recent Microsoft developer conference in Paris, about 1200 developers got an earful from Microsoft about Java. As Microsoft increased the noise level, FUDing Java, the crowd booed and yelled `Go Java.' The crowd then began leaving in droves. At the end of the hour there were 50 people in the room."
The reality appears to be more boring -- in fact, it was apparently the boredom suffered by developers sitting through the Microsoft presentations that was responsible for the original crowd of 1,200 dwindling as the day wore on, according to six different accounts of the conference obtained by a Paris-based reporter.
A presentation knocking Java was given in the afternoon, when many people had already left, according to the sources, who were also critical of the general quality of the information Microsoft shared during a day ostensibly devoted to Internet Explorer 4.0. One source had stayed only in the hopes of winning a QuickCam at the end of the day. And while there apparently was some heckling during the Java talk, including a cry of "allez Java," it came from a group of about a dozen people sitting together, several sources reported.
A JavaSoft spokeswoman contacted yesterday said that Baratz's source for the anecdote was two e-mails JavaSoft had received. The two e-mails are identical, word-for-word, except that one has an introductory paragraph the other is lacking, and came from a Sun employee in France, the spokeswoman acknowledged. Interestingly, the same e-mail was sent to a French reporter, but also includes the claim that the unidentified writer was the one who shouted "allez Java."
No further comment was forthcoming from JavaSoft, nor from Baratz, who told the anecdote after proclaiming "now is the right time for us to cut through all the rhetoric."
--Francois Lambel and Elizabeth Heichler (Lambel is an editor at Le Monde Informatique, a SunWorld affiliate)
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