Microsoft owned WebTV Networks has dropped plans to incorporate support for Java into its product line.
The company has backtracked from earlier plans to include Java in its products, which enable the delivery of Internet services through TV sets, saying it would drive up the cost of devices. WebTV has licensed its product to Philips Electronics, Sony and the UK?s Pace Micro to make low cost TV set-top devices.
The absence of Java will prevent users from accessing advanced features such as streaming video and videoconferencing, or from visiting Java chat rooms, though the core applications such as email and enhanced TV programming will be unaffected.
The decision is inevitably being seen as more evidence of a Microsoft attempt to undermine Java and set its own de facto standards in the potentially lucrative Internet TV market.
But analysts were generally unconcerned, and pointed out that WebTV may incorporate Microsoft's own version of Java, J++. This might add weight to the conspiracy theories, they said, but for consumers, would offer the same facilities as standard Java.
?It?s just a minor issue. Consumers will not be buying Web TVs to get Java,? said Noah Yasskin, an analyst at Jupiter Communications, who believes the Microsoft subsidiary has no future in UK as the broadcasters? own set-top boxes will dominate the market.
?Java wouldn?t be important even if WebTV was successful. In Europe WebTV will be stillborn into that market. In the US the market is more fragmented so you can sell just about anything to someone,? he added.
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