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Will Microsoft evangelize `100% Pure Java?'

Sun, Microsoft dispute invitation to join initiative
More Java products unveiled

By Sari Kalin

December  1996
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Boston (12/12/96) -- Microsoft Corp. claims Sun Microsystems Inc. did not invite it to join the "100% Pure Java" campaign, but Sun officials claim that's not true. The testing and certification campaign, launched by Sun's JavaSoft division at Internet World in New York earlier this month, aims to assure customers that applications written in Java will run on all platforms that meet the Java virtual machine specifications.

The announcement garnered support from more than 100 vendors, including IBM, Apple Computer Inc., Oracle Corp., and Netscape Communications Corp. Microsoft was noticeably absent from the podium.

JavaSoft's President, Alan Baratz, said he called and asked Microsoft to participate and was told that the company would think about it. A Microsoft official disagreed, however.

"We weren't invited," said Charles Fitzgerald, Program Manager in Microsoft's Internet client at collaboration division. "The press release was in the can before we had any discussion."

Microsoft first learned of the Pure Java initiative from an e-mail December 11 to Java licensees informing them that the announcement would be made the following day, Fitzgerald said. His understanding, from listening to Sun fellow and Java creator James Gosling speak on December 12, is that the testing methods have not been spelled out yet.

"There's not a lot of meat to it yet," Fitzgerald said. "When we see something substantative, we'll certainly like a look at it."

Baratz could not be reached for comment, but Sun officials maintained that Microsoft was invited before the announcement, and that the tests are farther along.

Sun has been developing the certification program for a couple of months, but decided on short notice to launch it at the show with its partners, said David Spenhoff, director of product marketing at JavaSoft. It decided to launch it at Internet World to quell developer and customer fears, spelled out in recent press reports, that the Java platform is fragmenting.


Microsoft's Java plans
Microsoft has committed to delivering a compatible implementation of the Java virtual machine in the Win-32 operating system, Baratz said. But it is Microsoft's choice whether to "evangelize" platform-independent computing with pure Java, or to evangelize "proprietary lock-ins."

"They [Microsoft] have developed some extensions that we call `proprietary lock-ins'," Baratz said. "If you use those extensions, your program will only run in the Windows environment and that is not in the spirit of [Java]."

An analyst said that Microsoft's support would be key to the campaign's success, as would customer demand for the certification. Customers may be more successful at moving Microsoft to commit to pure Java than an industry alliance, however, he said.

"You can't force it," said Bob Lewin, principal analyst, workgroup computing, at Dataquest, a Gartner Group company headquartered in San Jose, CA. "But what you can do is get the bananas the [800-pound] gorilla eats to say, 'We want this.' "

Sun officials cautioned not to read too much into the list of vendors supporting the initiative, saying that others would join within the coming weeks. The testing and branding and educational campaign will be introduced in the first quarter of next year, officials said.

Among the campaign participants, Netscape announced that its Windowing Internet Foundation Classes, launched December 11, have been designated as a graphical user interface environment that can be used to build 100 percent pure Java applications.

Sun unveiled several Java-based products and enhancements, including the following:

--Sari Kalin, IDG News Service, Boston Bureau

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