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October 7, 1998


By CBR Staff Writer

Sun Microsystems Inc will formally introduce its Jini distributed Java object and agent technology along with a slew of partners during December’s Java internet show in New York. It will have a full supporting roster of companies demonstrating early versions of products using Jini; Sun co-founder and VP research Bill Joy says there are around 40 Jini partners at present. None are licensees however, as Sun’s license document is still in draft form. Joy says Sun will make the license watertight to prevent the possibility of Jini being ‘polluted’ by incompatible implementations like it claims Microsoft Corp has done with Java. It will presumably wait for the outcome of its current litigation against Microsoft over its Java license before committing to a finished form of the Jini license. What we do know is that Sun will charge a branding fee for commercial products which incorporate Jini. Devices that connect to Jini-enabled networks will need an agent component which identifies their services and availability. Sun didn’t say how much the fee will be. Jini will be free where it is incorporated into products that are themselves made freely available. However Joy doesn’t think the free software business model – where source code is freely available and can be altered – is suitable for Java. He says there’s good enough availability and access to Java to get the development and debugging work done as it is now. Indeed he expects the major Java milestones for 1999 to be the completion and release of many of the promised developer APIs – including the 2D work, which he says has been hardest. In addition, it will roll out the go-faster technologies such as the Hot Spot virtual machine (which was licensed by Hewlett-Packard Co earlier this week) which Joy believes will enable Java applications to run as fast as C programs. It will also concentrate on getting Jini and Java Spaces technologies out of the door. He admits there’s still a problem with how to accurately portray Jini because agents and objects have little meaning for most consumers. The notion of a distributed operating systems is, he agrees, perhaps to best way to characterize the way consumers might understand the way it works even if it’s far from what Jini really is. Meantime, Sun has drummed up some Japanese support for Jini through research and development cooperation agreements with several electronics makers, chief executive Scott McNealy told the Nihon Keizai Shimbun. New participants in the project include Seiko Epson Corp, which will use Jini to simplify the use of peripherals such as printers, scanners and digital cameras and Oki Electric Industry Co which figures to use Jini in information systems designed for financial institutions. Toshiba Corp is also involved in some Jini work, but details have yet to be announced. In addition, we overheard Bell Atlantic asking about the suitability of Jini for its 120,000 field staff.

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