JavaSoft Vice President, Jim Mitchell said Sun Microsystems and Hewlett Packard are pursuing "completely parallel paths" with embedded Java, and there is no danger that Java will be fragmented. Mitchell also said that while the two companies disagree on some issues, they continue to seek ways to work together.
"It's a funny line they're [HP] walking, because they want to be compliant, and the only way to be compliant is to recognise the specifications we have put out for our class libraries," Mitchell said. "They haven't invented any new APIs. They're talking about the fully compliant Java language, the Virtual Machine and four class libraries in fact, they're actually saying that a subset of the specifications we have at the moment comprise embedded Java.
"For them, the real issue must be strategic. They knew they had to have this for their instrument and printing division, and the notion that they were just another licensee did not give them enough control," Mitchell said.
HP has reversed Sun's process by shipping an implementation of an as-yet-unpublished specification. HP officials claim the company will turn its specification over to a standards body and that any company can participate in defining it, not just HP licensees. Sun, on the other hand, publishes its specifications before implementing them but allows only Java licensees to comment. Sun's EmbeddedJava specification is still being defined, so Sun and HP have room to negotiate. Sun, does not allow anyone to clone arbitrary subsets of Java.
EmbeddedJava is designed to download only specific Java applets from the Web, not random applets, so the "Write Once, Run Anywhere" promise of Java isn't threatened, Mitchell said. "If HP had done this with PersonalJava, then I'd be worried," he added.
Officials at QNX Software Systems a Sun licensee in the US, said QNX licensed HP's Embedded Virtual Machine because it is shipping now. Officials at Intel which is optimising HP's Virtual Machine for its embedded Pentium chips, said the ISO, ANSI, IEEE and ECMA would all be appropriate standards bodies because they have open membership and allow full participation by all members. The officials said Sun has too much control over Java.
"HP has been a long-standing member of many world standards bodies, and its interest in the process is a genuine one," said Rick Ross, the president of the Java Lobby. "HP has made a number of commitments consistent with the platform-neutral spirit of Java, and its questions deserve to be discussed. It's clear that Sun has the resources to take care of Sun."