Sun Wheels And Deals At JavaOne Conference

Dell and HP agree to put Java Virtual Machine on PCs; Sun embraces mobile computing

Charles Babcock, Editor at Large, Cloud

June 13, 2003

3 Min Read

Sun Microsystems last week inked deals with Hewlett-Packard and Dell Computer to include up-to-date Java on their PCs. The move reflects Sun's efforts to negotiate with PC makers to load the Java Virtual Machine, a program that interprets downloaded Java code, onto new computers. The move is intended to circumvent Microsoft's decision to drop Java from Windows XP.

Sun challenged Microsoft last year on its plans to drop Java from the basic version of its Windows operating system. A Baltimore federal district court judge ruled in December that Microsoft must include an up-to-date Java Virtual Machine in Windows. Microsoft appealed to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which stayed the district court order in February, and Microsoft has since continued with its plans.

"Microsoft is pulling Java from Windows. I just don't get it. Do you?" Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's executive VP for the software group, asked at a speech at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco.

With HP and Dell putting Java on PCs, others will follow, McNealy says.

It matters that Java is being reinstalled on PCs from HP and Dell, Gartner analyst David Smith says, "but it doesn't matter as much as it would have in 1996, when infatuation with Java" might have led to its supplanting Windows.

Sun also wants to see Java flank Microsoft on mobile devices. "PC manufacturers ship 120 million PCs [running Windows] a year. We'll double that" with Java, Schwartz said in remarks about the handset market. Future versions of Palm Inc.'s Tungsten handhelds will have built-in support for IBM's WebSphere Java 2 Micro Edition.

In remarks on the last day of the conference, Sun chairman Scott McNealy said he'd been accused eight years ago of overstating Java's potential. With 3 million Java programmers in the world, he countered that he had "underhyped" it. "We've merged Java with Web services ... that was an important maneuver," he said. With HP and Dell putting Java on the PCs they ship, McNealy said, "all the other manufacturers will realize they have to have Java on the desktop."

In separate news, Sun decided to mend fences with Java's poor relations, the scripting languages that frequently reside on Web sites with Java but lack association with large commercial vendors (most are free open-source code, such as Perl, Python, Tcl, and PHP). Scripting supplies the glue that holds many Web sites together by issuing short command programs to the Web server and calling on dissimilar software components to work together. In the past, Java hasn't recognized them. Now Sun has teamed with Zend Technologies Ltd., the leading commercial vendor behind PHP, the most frequently used scripting language, to request a specification for how Java should interface to scripting languages.

Also at the show, Laszlo Systems Inc. unveiled its presentation server for adding a rich client user interface to Java Web-server applications. Paintmaker Behr Process Corp. is using the server on its Web site. "We're allowing people to visualize the end result and preview how a particular room will appear before they make their paint purchase," says Mary Rice, Behr's VP of marketing. The presentation server is free to developers. The small-business edition is priced at $999.

HP unveiled an OpenView Internet Usage Manager tool for developers that functions as a plug-in to the Eclipse open-source developer's workbench. The tool will simplify the creation, editing, testing, and debugging of Internet-usage software and is designed to enable the creation of components that collect network-, system-, and service-usage data for cost allocation and billing.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

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