Microsoft and Sun?s Javasoft unit locked horns again this week in the latest of a series of very public disputes as both suppliers jockey for power in the emerging Web market.
This time, Microsoft is contending that certain applications built with the latest version of the Java Development Kit (JDK) do not work with version 3.0 of its Internet Explorer browser.
The problem centres around the Java Native Interface (JNI), which Javasoft included for the first time in version 1.1 of its JDK, released earlier this month.
JNI is a set of interfaces that enables the Java Virtual Machine to communicate directly with a given operating system such as Windows, if users want to develop platform-specific Java-based applications.
But, Microsoft is refusing to support JNI because it says it has its own native interfaces.
The power struggle appears to be based on Microsoft?s fear that if it allows a third party to start introducing new interfaces to the software giant?s developer base, it could open the floodgates to further incursions over which it has no control.
By putting a stake in the ground to try and show Javasoft who is boss, Microsoft hopes to keep developers locked firmly into its Win32 application programming interfaces.
Mike Pryke-Smith, Microsoft?s Internet tools product manager, said: ?We?ve enabled Java developers to get to Microsoft platforms via our native interfaces from day one, and then Sun suddenly introduces its own native interface support. There are millions of developers using our interfaces and Sun is alienating them by wanting to lock them out of support for Java. It?s saying that developers should change the way they write their applications and go to a new unproven specification.?
But Amy Porter, Javasoft?s European marketing manager, said that Microsoft was simply creating a tempest in a teapot, because all it had to do to meet its contractual obligations was add JNI support to its own interfaces and that was a trivial task.
The situation, she claimed, had nothing to do with technology and all to do with guerilla marketing.
?We?ve got 60 Java licensees and only one is making a fuss - that is Microsoft. It?s trying to make this an issue by saying we?ve broken backwards compatibility, which is a nonsense seeing as we haven?t released JNI before. It?s also threatening to sue us, but we have no contractual obligations to Microsoft and it has loads to us. In fact, all it?s doing is pointing out to the world that it?s written a platform-specific Java development tool,? she said.
She added that Microsoft was in breach of contract if it did not support JNI.
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