Microsoft will announce by the end of the month a plan to embed
Java directly into future versions of Windows, a significant
development that will allow other applications besides Web
browsers to run Internet applets, according to sources.
The Microsoft announcement is part of a major strategic shift for
Sun Microsystems, which will make a concerted push with the
Redmond, Washington, company and other operating system vendors
at Internet World in San Jose in two weeks to make Java a
standard feature of operating systems rather than Web browsers.
Although Sun officials would confirm only Microsoft's
participation in the announcement, IBM is also expected to be
involved, sources said.
Microsoft officials would neither confirm nor deny the
Microsoft's plan to put Java in its OS is not without precedent.
Last month, Novell unveiled plans to make Java part of its
NetWare operating system so that networked applications can take
advantage of the cross platform and security capabilities of
Microsoft has also previously stated its intention to bundle its
Internet Explorer Web browser, which wiill soon support Java, into
Windows 95. But a Java engine embedded directly into Windows will
allow a broad range of applications, including word processors,
spreadsheets, and databases, to run Java applets, small
platform-independent program accessible over the Internet.
Microsoft has not determined when the Java-savvy version of
Windows will be available, but it considers the marriage of the
two technologies a priority, according to sources.
Currently, Netscape Communications' Navigator 2.0 is the only
commercially available application that supports Java. While the
language's popularity is due in large part to the phenomenal
popularity of Navigator, Microsoft hopes it can steal the show
from its Mountain View, California, rival by adding native
support for Internet technologies, including TCP/IP and hypertext
transfer protocol, to Windows.
Similarly, Sun hopes to achieve ubiquity for Java by getting OS
vendors to make it a just another feature of their systems.
But Netscape does not plan to cede ground to Microsoft and other
OS vendors any time soon.
This week, the company announced that Navigator will get a Java
performance boost through the addition of Borland International's
just-in-time Java compiler, a second-generation Java engine that
will accelerate the speed of applets by five to ten times.
Microsoft hopes to fire back with its own just-in-time Java
compiler, which it will initially put into the forthcoming
Internet Explorer 3.0 and eventually into Windows, according to
sources close to the company.
Internet Explorer is expected to go into widespread beta testing
within the next two weeks, Microsoft officials said last week.
Although Microsoft's affair with Java has heated up of late, the
company at first reluctantly endorsed the technology by
announcing last December its intention to license Java from Sun.
Then in March, Microsoft jumped on the Java bandwagon by
detailing plans to create a Java development tool, code-named
Jakarta, and to make Java work with ActiveX Controls, its broad,
language-independent Internet architecture.
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