Sun licenses Java to Sony

Sun Microsystems has announced one of its biggest licensing deals to date with Sonyagreeing to license both the Java Development Kit and Personal Java.

Although Sony has yet to disclose its exact plans for using the language, sources say the Tokyo-based consumer electronics behemoth is interested in integrating Java into set-top boxes and TVs to create an interactive system that connects users to the Web.

The announcement comes roughly one week after Hewlett Packardlaunched a competitive campaign against Sun by creating a lightweight Java virtual machine for use in consumer devices and embedded systems. Microsoft has licensed that technology for use in its Windows CE operating system.

Terms of the Sony deal where not announced; however, the license is believed to include per-unit royalty payments.

The announcement is the latest in a string of recent successes for Sun in taking Java into more mainstream devices. Earlier this year, Motorola announced it had licensed all of Sun's Java technology for use throughout its product line, including cell phones, pagers and other devices. This week, Sun and Swedish cellular phone maker Ericsson agreed a similar deal.