Java is just another language, not the Holy Grail of programming was Bill Gates message to the assembled developers at the Software Development 97 show in San Francisco.
Delivering the keynote address at the 10th SD show, the Microsoft chief executive offered little in the way of insight and fresh ideas, prefering instead to offer the usual run through of Microsoft products complete with Internet Explorer demo.
He did however take time out from his sales pitch to deliver a few less than subtle side swipes at Java. Many of those in the audience were actually delegates at the Java One show which was being staged in the building across the road from SD 97.
Rejecting claims from rivals that Microsoft is not a true advocate of the Java phenomenon, Gates insisted that the company would offer it the same level of commitment as it extended to other development languages.
But he said Microsoft intended to take a pragmatic approach to how it implemented Java in its products and would do so in a way which best suited its customers needs, not the wishes of other suppliers.
?We want feedback from developers, not a religious feud,? he said. ?We're focused on developers' success. That's how the PC industry has done well, and that's how Microsoft has done well. Our goal is very simple: to deliver the fastest, most functional Java technology.?
Gates had no time for those who see Java as something more than another development language, dismissing this as a futile search for a software Holy Grail. ?Ever since I?ve been programming, there?s been this search for the perfect programming language,? he said, citing analyst and supplier quotes dating back as far as the 1960s which dubbed everything from Cobol to C++ as the ultimate in language.
Earlier that day Sun chief executive Scott McNealy had joked that his view of Microsoft was coloured by 'jealousy, envy and immaturity'. The following morning he set out to demonstrate this in a keynote address that spent most of its time attacking ActiveX.
ActiveX, he claimed, was the end result of a number of elements: Java + porting + memory loss + viruses. 'Stop asking 'where you do want to go today?' and ask 'What do I want to get done today?' he said.
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