Java jumps to operating systems
All major operating systems to build-in support for Java
The inclusion of the Java object-oriented programming language in a
range of operating systems will ease cross-platform development for all
applications and will free users from the hegemony of the Windows
operating system, according to observers.
Sun Microsystems Inc. announced at Internet World here this week that
Microsoft Corp., Apple Computer Inc., IBM, Novell Inc., Silicon Graphics
Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., The Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) Inc., Hitachi
Ltd. and Tandem Computers Inc. will embed Java in their operating
systems, making the language accessible to developers of those platforms
and to end users.
An executive at Apple, which competes with the massive Windows installed
base for which most applications are written first, made it clear that
Java in the operating system will make all software development
"Java is an integral part of all operating systems and available to all
applications," said Larry Tesler, vice president of Internet platforms
at Apple, in a conference call about the announcement. "It will level
the playing field for operating systems."
At least one Java developer agreed.
"Until now, all the press Java has been getting is as a Web development
language. Suddenly it's a real, viable language to do any software
development," said Ian McFarland, cofounder of Neo Communication, a Web
publisher in San Francisco.
"There's no reason why people can't write full applications in Java and
port them to different platforms. This idea that you need to wait until
software is available for your machine" is an idea that will become
obsolete, he said. "Now, software will be easily available for every
environment that supports Java."
Java has other subtle advantages, McFarland said, including its native
support for networking and the fact that it reduces time to market for
developers, particularly for multiplatform development.
Sun will announce new APIs (application programming interfaces) at the
first JavaOne Conference, May 29-31 in San Francisco, said Bill Joy,
founder of Java creator Sun Microsystems and vice president of research
at Sun's JavaSoft division, in his keynote yesterday. The APIs, he said,
"will allow people to write full applications that can be downloaded
over the Net."
Under the new model, JavaSoft will license the Java Virtual Machine and
class libraries to the operating system companies, which will then
provide the Java implementation for their platform and expose Java as
binaries in the operating system.
The licensees get the Java source code and can modify the Java reference
implementations within their own operating system environments, but
JavaSoft retains the right to license the source code to developers and
others, said Alan Baratz, president of JavaSoft.
Sun will "encourage extensions or improvements to the Java platform and
ask that specifications be made open and returned to JavaSoft for
incorporation back into the reference implementation" for sharing with
all licensees, said Baratz.
A future Sun announcement related to new markets for Internet terminals,
consumer devices and embedded controllers, will involve "a version of
the Java platform that can live directly on the hardware," he said.
Baratz also said that incorporating Java into the operating system will
enable real-time transaction processing. "Java applets can now establish
direct connections themselves to the system and invoke objects through
the CORBA architecture and execute remotely," to transfer data, he said.
The newest licensees announced their Java intentions in the
teleconference and in press releases:
Apple plans to use Java in its Macintosh, Pippin and Newton operating
systems, as well as in its media authoring technologies, Internet
servers, client software and in CyberDog, its OpenDoc-based Internet
IBM "never really thought of Java as a browser technology," said John
Patrick, vice president of Internet technology at IBM. The company plans
to roll Java-operating system integration out across all its client and
server product lines this year, he said. Java will be included in the
next release of Lotus Notes, which is due before September, as well as
with the next releases of OS/2, S/390, OS/400 and Windows 3.1, Patrick
Java applications can already be downloaded to Java browsers through
IBM's Internet Connection Server for MVS/ESA, and Java applications can
use IBM's Java client middleware to access IBM's CICS and DB2 servers,
according to an IBM press release with a heading "Cafe without Ole," in
reference to Ole, Microsoft's rival technology to Java.
Microsoft, meanwhile, will incorporate Java in future versions of
Windows 95, Windows NT, Internet Explorer 3.0 and the ActiveX
architecture on client and server, according to Microsoft spokesman
SCO will include Java in its SCO Internet Family, which features
Internet FastStart, which was announced this week, and also in Gemini,
its merged Open Server-UnixWare OS, early next year.
SGI will embed Java in Irix; SunSoft will put it into Solaris; and HP
will tune the Java run-time environment, adding a just-in-time compiler
and including it in future releases of HP-UX, as well as in its new
Novell announced in March its plans to embed the Java Virtual Machine in
NetWare this year and will include it in GroupWise later this year.
-- Elinor Mills, IDG News Service