If developers buy into Sun Microsystems Inc’s Java 2 community source license agreement, the terms of which have just been published, Wall Street brokerage Merrill Lynch & Co figures Java could be worth between $300m and $400m to the company in its next financial year. Product sales and royalties due to Sun on Java shipments will be worth between $0.05 and $6.00 per unit, the brokerage estimates. Javasoft management has been plying the securities industry with its strategy, arguing that only Sun, IBM and Microsoft can supply the end-to-end solutions service providers are looking for. In particular it’s thinking of a second wave of portals, vertical industries and individual enterprises which are just now beginning to be created. Sun’s expecting Java to become the dominant development platform in the next decade on the back of such requirements, especially given that even its key competitors, IBM and Hewlett-Packard, have hung their hats on Java succeeding in the enterprise. The new Java community license scheme enables developers to modify source code as long as cross-platform compatibility is maintained. Royalties on products that are deployed with Java replace upfront license fees although there are still support fees. It’s not open source, though, as Sun is trying to strike a balance between giving away the golden egg and cashing in on its invention. Sun’s reported to be brewing a PR campaign to address the open source versus community license issue; remember it’s also trying to push Solaris, or at least parts of Solaris through the same model, although it’s still hung up on baggage it collected while fighting the Unix wars. The Microsoft Java lawsuit and success or failure of the America Online-Netscape deal will help determine Java’s fate one way or the other. For the record, what Sun is offering is the Java 2 SDK (formerly JDKTM 1.2) and Java 2 Runtime Environment. Modified source code cannot be distributed without its written permission and binary programs built using modified Java 2 SDK source code cannot be distributed without meeting Sun’s compatibility and royalty requirements. Sun charges an annual fee for access to the test and compatibility kit, upgrades, training and support. Moreover, products distributed commercially must also be branded Sun’s Java logo which requires a separate trademark license with Sun.