A group of Java developers has sent an open letter to Bill Gates, demanding that Microsoft reconfirm its commitment to fully support Java within 10 days.
The move mirrors the open letter sent by Microsoft, Intel, Compaq and Digital Equipment to Java owner Sun a couple of weeks ago, criticising the supplier for offering Java as a standard to the ISO, while still trying to retain control of its direction.
The developers come under the umbrella of the Java Lobby, which was set up in August this year and currently numbers about 1,600 members worldwide.
The organisation?s aim is ?to represent the needs and concerns of the Java developer and user community to the companies and organisations who have an influence in the evolution of Java? and it has asked Microsoft to respond to two main questions within 10 days.
The first question is whether version 4.0 of the Internet Explorer browser, which is due to ship on 30 September, will fully support version 1.1 of the Java Developer?s Kit (JDK).
The second is whether Microsoft will ship the full range of application programming interfaces (APIs) included in version 1.2 of the core Java platform. This comprises the key components for the developer - the Java Virtual Machine, the programming language and Java class libraries including the Foundation Classes.
The letter states that the latest official Microsoft position on Java implies that the software giant would like to limit the meaning of the term Java to the programming language and byte codes alone.
But the Lobby would like Microsoft to commit to supporting all forthcoming APIs included in version 1.2 of the JDK because: ?We need a foundation of core compatibility in Java implementations in order to build our own successful Java products. Microsoft risks the wholesale loss of our longstanding support if it chooses to go its own way.?
The letter continued: ?We?ve heard explanations and excuses that Microsoft will not implement some features of Java because they are redundant with functionality in Windows today...Please have enough respect for your developers and customers to let us make these choices for ourselves...Essentially, we will be asked by Microsoft to code one way for Windows and a different way for the rest of the world. We?re confident that as a developer, you can see how Microsoft?s isolated position is not friendly to the developer community.?
But, Mike Pryke-Smith, Microsoft?s Internet tools marketing manager, was not convinced that the Java Lobby represented the average Microsoft developer.
?We do listen to developers and we are supporting them, hence our decision to license Java in the first place. But, when we licensed Java initially, it was a language. We will support version 1.1 of the JDK, but we?ve said we won?t support the raft of APIs being pumped into version 1.2 because we won?t be forced to put APIs into Windows that are already there. We?ll provide basic 1.1 level support at the language level, but not at the operating system level,? he said.
He added that he did not know whether Microsoft would respond to the Java Lobby because Bill Gates received thousands of emails every day.
He also refused to comment on threats from Scott McNealy, Sun?s chief executive, on CNBC TV in the US earlier this week, that Sun might revoke Microsoft?s licence if it refused to play by the rules.
McNealy said that Microsoft was close to violating its licence agreement and action may be taken if this happens. Sun will reportedly review how Java is being used in version 4.0 of Internet Explorer.
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