Javasoft unveiled a branding initiative this week intended to ensure the Java industry does not splinter into bits in a damaging repeat of the Unix wars, but the scheme ended up in a war of words with Microsoft.
Details of the ?100% Pure Java? initiative were revealed during a press conference at the Internet World trade show in New York. The programme will mean that all Java-based applications are tested to ensure they conform to Javasoft?s authorised application programming interfaces. They will receive the Javasoft branding only if they can run on any Java Virtual Machine.
The Sun Microsystems? unit plans to pull in a third party branding and testing organisations to undertake the conformance work as of January. The scheme is aimed at independent software vendors such as Corel, which is rewriting its Wordperfect suite of applications in Java, to ensure they do not include bells and whistles that reduce platform independence or portability.
Javasoft is also introducing a Java-compatible logo for operating systems and browser manufacturers, although this will be a self-policing programme, with suppliers expected to comply with the stipulations of the test suites included in the Java Development Kit.
This initiative will be followed by a third branding programme for hardware in the New Year. Hardware manufacturers running Java-based software will be able to add the logo 'Java-powered' if the software conforms to Javasoft?s test criteria.
Amy Porter, Javasoft?s European marketing manager, said: ?This is a response to questions on possible splintering of the various Java initiatives by means of proprietary add-ons. It was a way for us to loosen up the use of the Java trademark, but to strengthen people?s trust in the brand. It was to up their confidence levels, so they could see Java was not going to be high-jacked in some way.?
The scheme was endorsed by over 100 companies, with IBM chief executive Lou Gerstner calling it "a very positive step", while urging the industry not to ?blow it? by repeating the well-documented mistakes of the Unix industry in the Java world. But, notably absent from the list of supporters, which includes Apple, Netscape and Oracle, was Microsoft.
Sun Microsystems subsidiary Javasoft claimed Microsoft had not decided whether to participate in the scheme and as such no representatives were present to endorse the initiative. But Microsoft claimed the reason its people were not at the announcement was because they had only been told of the event the previous morning.
The claims and counterclaims quickly descended into a wider row between Javasoft and Microsoft with allegations from both parties about the relative openness of both Java and Microsoft?s rival ActiveX software.
Microsoft strategist Brad Chase said that if Javasoft was serious about being open, it should submit Java to an independent standards committee, which he claimed Microsoft had done with ActiveX. "If Sun wants to go out and make statements about Java?s purity, they should back it up," he insisted. At the Open Group's meeting in Rome the same week, the standards body agreed to endorse ActiveX.
But Alan Baratz, Javasoft?s president, said Microsoft?s claims of openness for ActiveX were just "smoke and mirrors" and the evolving nature of Java meant that it was too early to submit it to any standards body yet, although this would happen at some unspecified point in the future.
He added that Microsoft had developed extensions to Java in its implementation for Windows, which he claimed that these were effectively proprietary lock-ins. "That is not in the spirit of the Java initiative," he said.
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