Network: The royal hunt of the Sun

The journey towards programs that will run on a variety of computer types - the promise of the Java language - has been diverted through a legal battle between Sun and Microsoft. Ian Grayson looks at Sun's campaign to reassure current and prospective users that Java will remain true to its word.

Like a protective parent guarding its offspring, Sun Microsystems has launched a world-wide campaign to counter what it sees as a significant threat to its Java programming language.

The campaign comprises a branding programme, a "how to" guide for businesses keen to try Java, and the establishment of a network of design centres around the world that will help companies create computer systems using the language.

When Sun launched Java little more than two years ago, it heralded it as a technological breakthrough that would enable the development of software programmes that could run on any type of computer platform. For example, a programme written in Java could be run on a personal computer, a Macintosh, a Unix system or any other type of computer without alteration. Prior to Java, such cross-platform moves would have required the programme to be extensively rewritten.

This idea captured the IT world's imagination to the extent that there are now almost 700,000 programmers using the language and more than 800 books to tell them how to do it.

However the journey towards this platform-independent Utopia has run into trouble. According to Sun, rival software company Microsoft has made alterations to the Java code to make it more compatible with its Windows operating system. Microsoft disagrees and the matter is now the subject of a legal battle between the two companies.

One of the primary objectives of Sun's campaign is to counter this move by Microsoft by reassuring current and prospective users that Java will remain platform independent.

In Berlin last week, Sun's chief executive officer, Scott McNealy, told a 5,000-strong gathering of computer programmers, Java users and prospective customers that Java would remain true to its original concept.

"The future of Java is secure," he said. "We are just concerned that people are going to wait for this court battle to be over before they get involved - that would be a great shame."

McNealy outlined Sun's new "100% Pure Java" programme, a branding initiative designed to ensure programmes conform with the language's strict rules. A new certification centre is being established in Europe that will provide a programme testing service to ensure compliance. Those programmes that pass will be allowed to carry the 100% Pure Java brand.

The European centre, to be based in the Netherlands, will be operated by Telefication BV, a hardware, software and telecommunications equipment testing company.

"Having accents in a spoken language is fine as people can still understand one another," McNealy said. "But you can't have them in computing. If you change the structure of the language even slightly it won't work." While ensuring that programmes comply with the rules of Java is the main reason for the campaign, it also provides Sun with a way of distancing itself from Microsoft's Java activities.

"What it comes down to is the fact that Microsoft has decided that it doesn't want to be compatible," he said. "It must feel that its customers do not want platform independence."

In an effort to maintain the Java momentum despite this very public battle with Microsoft, Sun also announced the establishment of a world-wide network of 200 Java Centres. The majority of centres will be owned and operated by Sun while others will be run in conjunction with partners such as service firms EDS and Cap Gemini.

Designed to meet what Sun claims is a growing demand from companies, the centres will offer access to Java experts who can offer advice on how the technology can be used. Advice will vary from simple explanations of the technology to design of new systems. The centres complement Sun's "Road to Java" programme, also outlined at the Berlin event. This programme sets out the steps companies should follow if they wish to begin using Java on their computer systems.

Sun is also practising what it preaches. The company is in the process of rolling out Java-based software applications throughout its operation.

"A year ago we put a stake in the ground and said that all computer clients in our company would be deployed with a Java browser," said McNealy. "We are now about half-way there and moving forward all the time."

Eventually all of Sun's 23,000 employees will use desktop devices running Java-based software. The company's 300 internal applications are being rewritten using the language.

As well as software, Sun has plans in the hardware arena. Its JavaStation network computer launched earlier this year will be improved with the release of a new model in early 1998.

The company is also working with other hardware vendors to encourage the use of Java in devices as diverse as telephones, smartcards and even rings. McNealy demonstrated a ring containing a microprocessor running Java that enabled its wearer to open a lock.

"Try doing that with Windows," he said.

Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Arts and Entertainment
U2's Songs of Innocence album sleeve

tvU2’s latest record has been accused of promoting sex between men

Arts and Entertainment
Alison Steadman in Inside No.9
tvReview: Alison Steadman stars in Inside No.9's brilliant series finale Spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk