Interview: Sun's Green says ruling will boost Java

Sun Microsystems's top Java executive contends that the federal court's impending "must carry" decision will aid corporate developers by assuring Java's ubiquitous distribution. In this interview, Richard Green, Sun's vice president and general manager for Java and XML, discussed the ruling's impact.

Q: How has Java been affected by Microsoft's decision not to ship the latest version with its desktop operating system?

Microsoft owns the principal distribution channels to the desktop. When they focus their energies on distributing an out-of-date version, they dilute the efforts of developers to create new applications by convincing them that this is not something that they should be using. The effect has been to freeze or delay development of really interesting state-of-the-art network applications based on Java for the desktop.

Q: What would a "must carry" order accomplish for Java?

The ruling ensures that the volume for this development platform will be greater than any other platform in the world, because it will be the sum of Unix, plus Linux, plus handhelds, plus servers. This will be the largest-volume development platform shipping worldwide.

Q: This ruling is limited to desktops. Will it affect other systems?

If you have a consistent set of APIs and programming models across all your systems, as a developer you can be more productive. So although these injunctions do not bear directly on platforms other than the desktops, for developers and end users it will offer ease of development and consistency.

Q: How does this help you compete against .Net?

The killer feature to date that .Net has over Java is not technology; it's not marketing; it's not tools. It's distribution. It's the ability of developers to count on it being present when they deploy their applications. That is the .Net advantage, and this injunction cancels that out.

Q: If Microsoft succeeds in reversing this injunction on appeal, will Java be crippled?

Java will go on as it has been: successful in the enterprise, on servers, on handhelds. But not as successful as we would like, by any means, as a desktop development platform.

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Patrick Thibodeau

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