Java 18-Mar-01
Sun Releases Java Client for Windows

Sun breaks Microsoft's grip on Java for Windows, freeing developers to write effective client side software.

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The agreement ending the Sun / Microsoft Java suit gave Sun Microsystems $20 million and forbids Microsoft from any participation in Java or calling any of it's products "Java compliant". The agreement also froze the version of Java shipped with Windows at an already hopelessly outdated release level.

Java now has a commanding position in development of server side applications, but developers who wished to deploy client side Java software feared Microsoft being banned from Java would effectively destroy the usability of Java on the Windows platform. These fears are now laid to rest.

Features of the new Web Start Java 1.0 for Windows package include:

  • It can be invoked by most existing Web browsers, not just Internet Explorer.
  • It can be loaded and used through corporate firewalls.
  • It includes an uncorrupted, completely Java compliant JVM (Java Virtual Machine - the Java runtime interpreter) compatible with those written for other platforms.
  • Applications can run within a Web browser, or can run completely independent of a browser. This was formerly available for OS/2 but not Windows.
  • It checks version and downloads updated applications when available.
  • Performance is much improved.
  • Microsoft can't cripple or corrupt this Java or prevent it from running.
  • Downloadable, free and without charge.

Analysis

This is very good news indeed for corporate developers anxious to break free of the high cost of the Windows environment. Web based applications are the wave of the future, even on the local network.

So essential are Java features to programming Web based applications Microsoft was forced to come up with an imitation of Java, C# (pronounced "C sharp"), as an integral part of the .NET initiative. They now face the considerable job of convincing programmers to use it instead of the heavily entrenched Java. If they fail to do so, .NET will be a minor player on corporate networks.

Despite Microsoft's attempt to kill it, Java thrives. Now, with the Windows question resolved, adoption of Java should accelerate. The main victim of Microsoft's dirty dealing is, this time, Microsoft.

- Andrew Grygus

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