But it does indicate the debate is recentering to its rightful place: APIs,
not languages. That resets the stage from 1996's pre-Web predictions of NS
vs Taligent vs Cairo to '98s JavaStep API vs MFC vs JavaSoft's edition.
Too bad that the Web has sucked away so much development life that we're
several years behind the object/appication development productivity curve
How Microsoft Hopes to Kidnap Java
Jesse Berst, Editorial Director
Wednesday, January 22, 1997
<Picture: Jesse Berst, Editorial Director<BR><I>ZDNet AnchorDesk</I>>In
1995, Sun Microsystems gave birth to Java. In 1997, Microsoft hopes to
steal Java away and raise it as its own. The kidnapping plot revolves
around "foundation class libraries," collections of software building
blocks used by developers as starter kits.
(You're probably wondering how an esoteric programming technology could
hold the key to the Internet. Patience, children. All will be explained.)
Last week, Microsoft gave a sneak preview of a new Java library called
Application Foundation Classes (AFC). The company did not reveal how it
will use AFC to abduct Java, but I'll give you an early warning.
Today, Java development is done on top of the universally criticized
Abstract Windows Toolkit (AWT) from Sun/JavaSoft. If Microsoft can convince
programmers to standardize on AFC instead, it can assume leadership of
Java. Once that is achieved, it can play favorites by optimizing its Java
tools for Windows. Thereby giving Windows an advantage over all other
operating systems. And thereby thwarting the Java "write once, run
anywhere" idea, which could render Windows irrelevant.
Will Microsoft's plan succeed? It has before. In the early '90s, Borland
was king of the compiler hill. (A compiler is an essential part of
producing a commercial software package.) Borland offered an Object Windows
Library (OWL). Microsoft countered with a superior library called Microsoft
Foundation Classes (MFC). MFC quickly became the standard and Microsoft's
tools became the top sellers.
Java holds the key to a truly cross-platform Internet and represents the
first real threat to the dominance of Windows on the desktop. In other
words, Java is heir apparent to the Internet kingdom. If Microsoft can
snatch it away from Sun/JavaSoft, the Redmond company will quickly become
the power behind the throne