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November 18, 1997updated 03 Sep 2016 2:10pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Sun Microsystems Inc has come away with a victory after eight months of wrangling with the International for Standards Organization (ISO), finally winning approval to become a Publicly Available Specifications (PAS) Submitter, which will enable it to submit Java to become an ISO standard. The ‘yes’ vote for Sun, which came to be widely expected in the past week, means that it can now begin the process of submitting the specifications of its Java programming language for standardization. It is the second time around for Sun, which had its initial attempt blocked in July with a majority of the countries voting ‘no’, or ‘no, with comments’. This time Sun won a majority vote, with 20 of the 25 ISO Joint Technical Committee 1 (JTC1) national bodies opting for approval. Of those who didn’t side with Sun, the United States and China were the only two nations to vote against approval. Switzerland and Italy abstained and Russia cast its vote too late to be counted. Although the vote of ‘no’ by the US seems ominous, 60% of the US voters threw their weight behind the approval. Unfortunately for Sun, that was two votes short of the two-thirds majority it needed to secure US support. With the victory, Sun becomes the first for-profit company to be approved as a PAS submitter. It was the first such organization to ever apply. Jim Mitchell, vice president, Technology and Architecture at Sun’s JavaSoft division, claims the vote means that the ISO is eager to approve Java as a standard. Mitchell asserts that Java has already become a de facto standard, and now has an opportunity to receive international recognition as such. The next step in the process for Sun is to transpose the language into the ISO’s format. Sun admits there is much work to be done, as it was unwilling to start before the outcome of the vote was released. Thus, Mitchell says, It won’t be making a formal submission anytime inside three months – and more likely closer to six. Sun is likely to submit the language specification, the core Java APIs, and Java virtual machine (JVM). Once submitted, the specification will face another ISO vote, which looks to have enough support currently to pass with a simple majority. Approval as an international standard would undoubtedly give Java a more widespread market worldwide and added credibility. Out of the 20 countries that supported Sun in this vote, 13 voted yes with comments, prompting some to question the apparent victory. Sun insists, however that the comments are no different to those voiced previously. The comments – mostly about the maintenance of Java – will be the fist things discussed in a negotiation period at the time of the actual submission. Sun is confident it can preserve Java’s integrity in such negotiations. Sun has said that it will never relinquish control of the Java brand name, but would permit use of it in a name such as ISO implementation of Java. JavaSoft president Alan Baratz says he doesn’t see the ISO imposing its will on the language and insists that Java will continue to evolve the way it has up until now – controlled by Sun and not by an outside body or by some form of compromise. The most important thing, he says, is that the write once, run everywhere element of Java is the most important thing to be preserved. The brass at Sun feel confident that the ISO agrees with the importance of that.

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