The International Standards Organisation (ISO) will decide in July whether Java should be a recognised, open industry standard. The ISO's deliberations began this week after Sun Microsystems submitted its Java technology to the authority.
The ISO will examine Java to see whether it is the best standard for the IT industry, according to ISO secretariat director Lisa Rajchel. Although there was some speculation in the industry that the ISO would object to its non-involvement in the creation of Java, Rajschel said it was normal for standards developed without the involvement of the ISO to be submitted at a later stage for authorisation. The only criteria are that the technology should be the best available for its purpose.
Sun wants to minimise the time to approve Java, said Jim Mitchell, vice president of technology at subsidiary Javasoft. "Our primary goal has been to find a way to preserve the industry?s substantial investment in Java."
Sergio Mazza, president of non-profit making voluntary standards organisation Ansi, said the submission was a triumph for industry standards. "This action demonstrates that the standards process can be responsive to the needs of industry."
Ravi Purushotma, a software developer specialising in Java and nicknamed Java the Hut, said Javasoft was rightly criticised for keeping the language as a proprietary language. "An unbiased third party - the ISO - will have a say in the standards. It will level the playing field of operating systems, so that no one company has a monopoly."
Although Sun will officially lose control of its standard if it achieves ISO ratification, it will gain credibility as an open technology, which will be an all-important weapon in its battle with Microsoft, whose products have not achieved more than de facto standard status.
Earlier this year Sun made moves to standardise different implementations of Java by introducing the 100% Java certification, but this was seen by many analysts as an attempt to keep iron control of the technology and minimise input from partners. An ISO authorisation would reverse that image, while still allowing Sun to retain its headstart and huge influence in the Java market.
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