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Microsoft Funds JVM Clonemaker Transvirtual

Not wanting to be excluded from all the Java activity this week, Microsoft Corp has revealed that it has been funding Java virtual machine clonemaker Transvirtual Technologies Inc. The Berkeley, California-based company, formed to bring to market a clean room implementation of Java originally written by London City University researcher Tim Wilkinson (CI No 3,506), is set to launch its Kaffe JVM at JavaOne this week.

Kaffe, says Transvirtual, is the only JVM that enables development for both Sun Microsystems Inc and Microsoft’s versions of Java. Other JVMs, including Sun’s, don’t support programs written with Microsoft’s Java extensions. The new version, including the Microsoft extensions, will be made available as open source for desktops, and Transvirtual will license it for internet applications and embedded systems, including Windows CE. Java programs written in the Windows environment will also run on other platforms, including Linux, Solaris, DOS, ThreadX and SMX.

Microsoft didn’t say how much it had invested in the development effort, but Transvirtual will continue to wholly own rights to the code. We’ve retained the exclusive rights to use this code in our licensed version of Kaffe for internet appliances said Wilkinson, who is CEO of the company.

At JavaOne, Transvirtual will be showing Compaq Computer Corp’s research prototype Itsy Pocket Computer, a handheld device that runs the Linux operating system. Using Kaffe, the device can run applications ranging from web browsers through to personal applications such as email, calendar functions and address books.

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Last week, Microsoft invested $125m in Inprise Corp – the former Borland – partly to give it access to Inprise’s Pure Java development tools. $100m of the amount was used to settle patent and technology licensing disputes between the two companies, and Microsoft agreed to use Inprise’s patented technology within its own products. Rumor has it that Inprise resisted takeover overtures from Sun before the deal was struck, and that Sun is now talking to Symantec Corp about acquisition. Symantec announced plans to spin-off its Java and internet tools business into a separate company last week (CI No 3,680).