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Sun Microsystems Inc has released the fourth beta of the next version of Java, the Java Development Kit version 1.2. The beta 4 cut contains everything that is new to version 1.2, including the 2D APIs, support for Japanese character set (Kanji) and the Java Foundation Classes (JFC). Sun says maintenance drops will be made every four to six weeks. The full version of JDK 1.2 is supposed to ship later this summer, and nobody at Sun was available to give us a more precise date. JDK 1.2 will build on the version 1.1.6 that contains Symantec Corp’s JIT 3.0 compiler and lay the foundation for the much- vaunted HotSpot virtual machine technology – currently in alpha – which should greatly increase the performance of Java. HotSpot will beta later in the summer and ship in the fall. Separately, Sun also announced the availability of version 1.0 of Java Blend, the Java DataBase Connectivity (JDBC)-based development tool for building database applications, which is also part of the JavaServer Engine suite, due to ship next quarter.

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