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October 8, 1998

TAKING THE SUN OUT OF JAVA: PUTTING THE BLUE IN

By CBR Staff Writer

It was at JavaOne back in March, following the fuss over Sun Microsystems Inc’s plan to turn Java into an ISO standard through unconventional means, that IBM Corp began floating its notion that the industry would be better off if the Sun were taken out of Java. True to its word, in the months that followed, IBM has worked hard to achieve this. Not by dissuading Sun from its stewardship of Java but by getting much more intimately involved in the evolution of Java than any other of Sun’s partners. IBM thinks Java will be huge and is making over the majority of its products with Java where appropriate. If Java can unseat some of Microsoft Corp’s desktop ubiquity along the way then all well and good, after all there’s no love lost between the two after Redmond left IBM at the altar carrying OS/2. IBM has created an extensive collection of Java resources on a dedicated web site and has a slew of Java development projects it calls alpha works. Moreover IBM rode to Sun’s rescue on Java projects that looked perilously close to falling apart and is a driving force behind others. IBM also breathed new life into Sun’s sickly JavaOS Java operating system, and yesterday agreed to help resuscitate the Java Media Framework that was quietly dropped by Sun’s first partners, Intel Corp and Silicon Graphics Inc. In addition, IBM made a key contribution to the JavaPOS project and it’s creating Java workgroup applications derived from what Lotus called eSuite (using Sun’s Java interface), and it is the key driving force behind the Java software for use on network computers. So IBM is not only a stakeholder in the Java economy but to some extent Java will stand or fall by its efforts. Yet it does not have a piece of the Java action in a formal sense. How long will it be before this changes? Or will IBM maintain its arm’s length involvement?

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