Java to be standardized by ISO

20 of 27 members vote in favor of Sun's proposal

By Niall McKay

November  1997
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San Mateo (November 13, 1997) -- Sun's JavaSoft division is set to become the gatekeeper to the Java standard, gaining a clear majority of the International Standards Organization (ISO) member committees around the world, according to a memo leaked by ISO committee members.

Ireland and the United States have voted against Sun becoming the Java gatekeeper, Switzerland and Italy abstained, and 20 of the 27 ISO member countries voted in favor of granting Sun the status of Publicly Available Specification (PAS) submitter for Java.

"The ISO has stated that a simple majority will decide the matter," said Lisa Poulson, a spokeswoman for Sun. "But the ISO will announce the vote on Monday and we are not going to comment until then."

The next step is that Sun will submit the Java Language, the Java Virtual Machine, and some base-level Java APIs for ISO approval.

One analyst believes that the international community has voted in favor of Sun because it is balking against Microsoft's dominance in the market.

"There is a perception that Microsoft represents U.S. dominance of the software market and has been using strong-arm techniques to keep the rest of the world in check," said Eric Brown, an analyst at Forrester Research, in Cambridge, Mass. "The reality is that they are voting for another U.S. company to totally dominate the market."

Ironically, Sun will have less control over the Java standard when it begins to go through ISO. At the same time, the move will give IBM more power in determining the fate of Java. IBM is strongly represented in eight of the 27 ISO international committees.

"If Java becomes an ISO standard, companies will only need to write to that standard and will not have to go through Sun's hoops of passing a series of compliance tests," said Tom Doucher, standards strategist with IBM's software group.

Meanwhile Microsoft is still spearheading the campaign to block Sun in its standards bid.

"We have no problem with Java the language getting ISO approval; we not only embrace Java the language, we are the biggest supplier of it," said Charles Fitzgerald, group program manager in Microsoft's Internet client and collaboration division. "Our problem is that Sun is trying to get the ISO to rubber-stamp its propriety standard."

The countries that voted in favor of Sun are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Niall McKay is a senior editor with Infoworld, a SunWorld affiliate.


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