Sun's greatest Java ally - Netscape - has turned against the language, cutting back on all on-going Java development and urging Sun to put the Java source code in the public domain. Netscape has abandoned development of a Java Virtual Machine (VM) for its browser and is likely to kill off its planned "Javagator", a browser written entirely in Java. The moves follow the company's decision to make the Communicator browser source code freely available. In a recent interviewr, a top Netscape executive said Sun should follow Netscape's example by "setting Java free". Microsoft, Compaq, Digital and Intel have already petitioned Sun to make Java public domain. Sun is standing firm against the calls. "I can't imagine how putting Java in the public domain will help us. It is really our only source of revenue," said Amy Porter, European marketing manager at JavaSoft, Sun's Java subsidiary. US analyst firm Forrester Research predicts that Netscape will abandon the Javagator now that it is giving away the source code to its browser. Javagator's aim was to provide a single cross-platform browser, which will no longer be necessary as third party developers can now make their own. Netscape has also confirmed plans to provide an Open Java API to allow its browser to use third-party Java VMs. This will cut the firm's development costs, as Netscape will no longer need to port its version of the Java VM to the 17 platforms it currently supports. Netscape said it would continue to support the current Java VM in the next release of Communicator but will not be developing these further. Suzanne Burnip, marketing manager at Netscape, said: "Netscape plans to integrate its future browser client products to support any compatible implementation of a Java VM from industry leaders like Sun and IBM." However, Netscape was unclear as to whether the Microsoft VM would work with the Open Java API. "Users who want a compliant Java VM for Windows should get it from Sun," said a Netscape spokeswoman. Netscape last week posted a worse than expected loss of $115.5 million (#69.6 million), and confirmed job cuts of at least 300.
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