A Year Ago: Guest slams Java devices for no consumer appeal

First published: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 13:49:21 GMT

Sun may be touting its Java technology far and wide, but you know it has a few hurdles to clear when its own guest of honour heckles it.

At a Sun Microsystems's day-long briefing on Tuesday, keynote speaker Stewart Alsop -- a venture capitalist who does not work for the company -- ridiculed Sun's Java-based Network Computer strategy just minutes after company executives touted it as a major piece of the company's vision for the future.

"I don't believe in network computers, or dysfunctional computers. I guess we can call them DCs," Alsop said. "Web surfing sucks on consumer devices as they exist right now. Let's stop talking about it."

Alsop said people don't want machines that operate off a remote network, as an NC does. Instead, he said they want local control over their devices and handheld computers, and Microsoft has already won the consumer space.

But Sun executives roundly bashed such remarks, saying that critics need to think outside the desktop and imagine the potential that Java has in networked devices as diverse as washers, portable phones and soda machines. The idea, Sun officials said, is not necessarily to surf the Web, but to push information from it to the devices.