A Year Ago Today: Microsoft still cautious about Java

This story first published Mon, 29 Sep 1997

Answering questions from developers at last week's Microsoft developers conference in San Diego, company chairman Bill Gates expressed caution about implementations of the Java network development language.

Speaking to more than 6,000 developers at the sold-out Professional Developers conference, Gates said "Java is fine. But, you know, be careful that the multiple definitions that somebody may imply." He went on to explain: "When people use the word Java, they can mean two different things. They can mean Java the language, which we think is a good language and we believe we've got a great implementation of that language. Certainly, it is the most popular set of tools for that language"

He said that it was some implementations of the language that he had problems with. Gates said that Microsoft will continue to support a range of languages while still being realistic about the environments in which people will use them "You'll find us very agnostic about languages," he said "We're going to continue to evolve Visual Basic. We're going to continue to evolve Visual C.

We think other languages that we're not involved in, like Powersoft or Delphi, or a dozen others that I'm not mentioning, all of those, that there will continue to be code there. It's very hard to go to a CIO and say, it's your lucky day, rewrite all your applications. They'll only be a little bit slower. You know, it's tough. When are they going to get it done, and why?"

Gates however was critical of the attempts by Java creator Sun to seize control of the language while also claiming it is an open system. "Theyre still trying to have their cake and eat it," he said.. "Either Sun should give up having a unique position, just be one of many companies who are contributing to it, and let somebody who doesn't have Sun's commercial interests, a neutral body, control it. Or, they should just say, hey, this is something we control. It's not a standard."

Microsoft recently removed all Java applets from its own Web site.

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