Jubilation over Sun's Java victory

Key industry players rallied to support Sun Microsystems' victory over Microsoft in its Java dispute in a show of unswerving support for open standards.

On Tuesday, US District Judge Ronald Whyte slammed a preliminary injunction on Microsoft giving the software group 90 days to modify its Windows 98 operating system or pull it from the market.

IBM's European software business marketing manager Tony Occleshaw told ZDNet that Microsoft had to be hauled into line "the painful way". "Microsoft's motivation is not a technological or product driven one, it's strategic. The company is protecting Windows. Now it has been forced to act in the interest of customers rather than itself, which is what Java is all about," said Occleshaw.

IBM, one of many companies that has invested heavily in Java, currently has more than 2,500 dedicated Java developers world-wide -- more than Sun itself -- working Java projects. "We hoped that this would be the outcome. However, if the ruling had been the other way round IBM has a raft of developments in the pipeline for a Java standard for Windows."

Robin Bloor, managing director of Bloor Research, welcomed the ruling claiming that the industry was rejecting the software giant's over-zealous "embrace and extend" mantra. "Microsoft aimed to control Java -- a move the industry does not want. It's right that Java is a standard and it make no sense to derail it. Millions of programmers have taken it up as the preferred choice of environment."

Bloor claimed that with the emerging revival of the Mac and growing support for Linux, open standard, multi-platform systems were high on the agenda for software developers. "Many developers refused to go down the Microsoft route anyway, tending to keep it [Java] pure. At the end of the day, most believe that Java will run on mobile phones and hand-held devises/PDA's and do not buy into the notion that Microsoft will own it all," said Bloor.

The European development community was jubilant. Neuron Data, which develops Java-based business rules automation software, has customers ranging from Merril Lynch, American Express, Wells Fargo, General Motors, Boeing, Ford and BMW. Patrick King, Neuron Data's managing director for Northern Europe, feared his company faced an uncertain future if Microsoft succeeded in "polluting" Java. "We are standing up and clapping our hands. More people should stand up to Microsoft. As the MD of a the UK branch of a company I was concerned Microsoft was hijacking Java and turning it into proprietary environment. The success of our company rests in the unbridled success of Java."

King warned that Microsoft's attempts to "own" Java was a threat to every organisation with a Web-based strategy. "Every leading bank and retailer across Europe interested in electronic commerce and the Web has an interest in Java. This is a world-wide issue about open standards.

Bucking the trend of most in the industry, chip giant Intel remained glued to the fence: "We do not have any comment relating to the Java ruling. Intel supports any flavour of Java on silicon. We take an agnostic approach -- the more the merrier," said an Intel spokesman.

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