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Java Justice Delayed is Java Justice Denied Javaland Calls For MS to Pay the Price
Java Justice Delayed is Java Justice Denied Javaland Calls For MS to Pay the Price

(September 10, 2002) - It would be hard to imagine a more emotive subject among developers than the question of whether Microsoft Corporation five years ago did, or did not, conspire to "kill off" Java on the client.

From France, Germany, Romania, India, the UK, and from all over America, Java developers have been having their say in response to JavaLobby founder Rick Ross's call for retrospective justice to be served on MS in the Sun vs Microsoft case that's unfolding in the courts this quarter.

Here we bring you a selection of the best so far.

"I Didn't Know It Was Dead"
Some developers take issue right away with Rick Ross's cry for justice. "Truly Pathetic," writes Steve Vago, for example. "I'm a member of JavaLobby and a enthusiastic Java developer, but this article is a pathetic rant. MS killed Java? I didn't know it was dead. Sun needs to concentrate on putting out good products and stop running to the courts for redress."

Frank McGrath agrees with Vago. "What utter nonsense," he writes. "Some foolish Java zealots discuss Java as the be-all, end-all, the alpha and the omega."

"Obviously, if another language still lives, life is unfair," he continues, ironically. "If all OS's are not relegated to being low-level file systems, someone (probably Microsoft!) is cheating."

"What does Rick Ross mean by Java anyway?" McGrath asks. "Is it a language? Then it has serious competition with C++, Smalltalk, C#, VB and many other languages. In what way has Microsoft inhibited its use as a language? Because Microsoft tried to extend the core Java language? What is the harm in that? What foolishness. What other vendor in the history of software has tried as hard as Sun to prevent others from extending the core of a software language? Decreeing that such extensions are non-standard would be fine, insisting that the extensions be clearly described and documented as non-standard would be fine, but that should be the end of it. Comparing the effort to "extend and embrace" a computer language or environment to MURDER? This is insanity."

"Java Is a Nice Little Language"
But McGrath isn't done yet. "Is Java not just a language but a platform?" he continues. If so, "then it means to compete with Windows itself. If this is the case, what reasonable company could have expected its competitor to lay down and give up? If this is the case, what reasonable person could demand that Microsoft ship Java?"

"My own opinion," McGrath says, "is that Java is a nice little language. It's a bit too complex for a novice. It's way too complex for simple scripts or macros. At the low-level end, where bits are bits and performance matters and the ability of your language to adjust to different architectures rather than dictate the architecture, it's not as good as C/C++. I don't know Smalltalk well, but I still hear the Smalltalkers touting their wares."

"Does Rick Ross actually believe that Java is the optimal language and platform for EVERYTHING?" McGrath concludes. "That it has better capabilities than C++ and Windows itself in all ways? That if it were not for Microsoft's "illegal actions," all software would now be written in Java? Do you believe that were it not for Microsoft's actions, most client-side software on Windows would now be written in Sun's Java (using JFC, not Microsoft's nasty, bad, non-portable WFC)? Would Windows just be a file system? What utter nonsense." "Worse Than Killing"

William Volk is for Rick Ross rather than against. Indeed he thinks that an even worse crime than a five-year-old murder has been committed: namely, present and ongoing deception. "What's worse than killing Java, is how some of the XP systems are lying about the presence of Java." "To be specific," he continues, "We test for Java via this Javascript statement (after first checking that Javascript is there):
if (navigator.javaEnabled())

What happens on some XP machines is that they will tell us they do have Java ... when they DON'T ... and then they will prompt the user to see if they want to download the Java plugin (sometimes). A bad thing. This is worse than killing off Java."

"Java Is Better Than Anything MS Has Ever Done"
"No one died and no one's going to jail," observes David M. Greer, trying to inject a sense of perspective into the discussion. "There are many competitors capable of challenging MS but who refuse to really battle in the marketplace and in the standards arena, self-fulfilling monopoly maybe. Java is better than anything MS has ever done and probably will ever do. Put it out there in the big, bad standards arena and let it kick some butt. Market Star Office not as an alternative to MS Office but as a competitor to MS Office. It's okay to complain about anticompetitive behavior but at the same time you at least have to try to compete or you're just whining."

Dave Berkheimer says he agrees with Greer, but on the other hand notes: "Put two horses in a 1-mile race. The one horse gets a half-mile head start because the jockey tied the other horse's legs to the starting gate. And then you expect the other horse to compete to win? Not impossible, but not probable unless someone steps in to level the playing field. I think that's all that Sun can expect and it's all they want."

From Romania, Valentin Cozma also believes Sun is wholly within its rights. "The point in the trial is that Microsoft has done something illegal, and should pay for it. Java is well developed on the server side, but the client part has a long way to go, and that may be the result (partially at least) of Microsoft's moves five years ago."

"Power Corrupts, and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely"
"Maybe we are sensitive," adds Rod Faulk, "but though we Java fans could be accused of having an inferiority complex, Microsoft does compete unfairly."

"Lack of a JVM in XP means that the user has to install one on his/her own before using Java applets," Faulk continues. "While they might like a specific Java app and want to try it, the additional effort on his/her part to go get the JVM will in many cases "not be worth it..." -- so the Java apps will not be adopted as broadly as they might otherwise have been."

"MS continues to pound out its own versions of open standards," he says, "and using its desktops to force people to comply." Faulk concludes: "JScript, C#, .NET - they are all copies of other architectures, and MS could have chosen to "play along" with open standards, but instead, they choose to copy and pervert them to the MS standard and then say it is an open standard. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

W. Nathaniel Mills,III points out that "Rick's message seemed more about how slowly the consequences for illegal activities against Java have been doled out. In Microsoft's case, time has resulted in money in their pocket -- not in the pockets of many Java developers whose products have suffered due to the added burden on customers to establish the Java runtime environment. How to account for what could have been is difficult. But to hear the courts claim injustice but not take action has been very disappointing for me. Justice delayed is justice denied."

VS.NET "Largely Poorer Than Java"
Writing from France, Julien Messer weighs in to say "I have been using .NET for a couple of weeks, and from a Java developer's perspective, it appears to me that its design is much better than old Visual Studio (to extend, to maintain, to develop), but it is largely poorer than Java (especially for the user interface layer)."

Messer continues: "This is not a surprise for a platform which is just born. I think it shows that even Microsoft trusts the concepts of Java enough to integrate them in its platform, which is not a bad thing for the programmers!"

"Can't We All Just Get Along?"
Dwight Vogel takes a more conciliatory line than some. "Can't we all just get along?" he asks, "I understand in the world of business that it's all about getting the bigger bottom line, but these corporate bigwigs should realize that it's not all about them, and that we the programmers who use the technologies are falling victim to their egos. Why don't they work together to improve everything for everyone?"

"To Beat MS, You Need to Compete"
Writing from the University of Maryland, Pinda Ndaki agrees with that "Java's problems go well beyond anything Microsoft has or ever could do." "The community as a whole has a vast array of tools and products available," Ndaki argues, "but Sun and others seem to misunderstand that if you want to beat Microsoft, you have to have an answer for their value proposition. You have to bring more to the marketplace than "buy my product because it's not made by Microsoft"."

"Microsoft's overwhelming strength over the years," says Ndaki, "has been delivering easier to use and cheaper products (they were almost never the leader in features, but the marketplace voted that they preferred cheaper products over feature rich ones). As a developer, for about a $1000 (less if you just use Office) you could essentially get a complete development environment/platform that you could learn to use and develop and deploy pretty powerful stuff on. Also, your clients don't have to spend a fortune on licensing application servers and databases (nor do you)."

"Sure the products haven't been secure, and many still aren't" Ndaki notes, "but for a great many projects the security is good enough (or can be made so if you pay attention and use available resources). But you can work with them and make a buck."

Ndaki contrasts this to the pricing point of J2EE: "The Java world on the other hand sets the buy-in price so high (both monetarily and culturally) that only the largest companies can really afford to deploy an application using J2EE (on WebLogic or WebSphere - the current studs). When there are lower cost/open source alternatives that would allow J2EE to get to the broader marketplace, Sun plays games and refuses to even try to certify them on J2EE (or charges an outrageous amount of money to do it), effectively castrating them in the eyes of non-technical people and slowing the momentum further."

"JBoss ring a bell? The real battle is for the small to medium sized businesses and that's where Microsoft is strongest (and price is most important). The big players have the money to buy whatever they choose, so arguing relative merits is irrelevant when a client only has $10K to spend and they insist on something they've heard of or built with something that is backed by a company they've heard of."

"More Work Needs to be Done"
"In spite of all of these problems," Ndaki concludes, "Java is everywhere, but there is a lot more work to be done. We need easier to use IDEs particularly for developing windowed applications. We need to get our Open Source studs blessed (and effectively marketed) so we can have a value proposition that is compelling on the low-cost side. We need to have Java (and a 1.3 certified J2EE container) come built into a *nix kernel ideally a flavor of Linux (RedHat or other) and FreeBSD. The reference implementation should be one that shows off the entire J2EE stack and one that can run with the big dogs."

"Sun is Just killing Java on the Client Side"
German-based developer has a slew of criticisms too: "AWT from the beginning looks awful and lacks many important features and Swing is too incredibly slow and resource hungry to be used in an applet. The new java.awt.Graphics implementation is perhaps platform independent but much slower than the old AWT peer concept. The drawing of text for example is about 10 times slower than in the JDK 1.1. The VM is clearly better now than in JDK 1.1 but with well written Java code it still has no chance against the current MS JVM. I ran many real world benchmarks and MS is in front with every one of them. I would say." "Sun is just killing Java on the client side," Thomas concludes, "without any help from MS."

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Reader Feedback: Page 1 of 1

J++, the 1.0 and 1.1 version, produced compliant java byte code. MS's JVM was rated as both: the fastest, and the most compliant. My code ran equally well on Sun, Macintosh, and WINTEL platforms, as long as I used the base classes. If I used MS's extensions (which I never had to do), then I knew I would be trading platform independence for the privilige of using those extensions. What MS did wrong, was to not provide full support for Java's base classes, RMI and others.

Sun, while justified in defending Java, did everyone a disservice by saddling MS with an obsolete version of the JVM.

What both did wrong was being so bitchy.

Frank McGrath is right in his assertion that extending Java is fine, after all Java is one of the most extensible languages ever devised. Microsoft didn't extend the language, though. AFAIK, Microsoft changed some the signatures of some of the methods in the core API's. This meant that J++ was not guaranteed to run on any JVM except Microsoft's. They were trying to tie J++ into Microsoft OS's only. This is patently against the aims of the Java programming environment. If Microsoft had been playing by the rules, they would have extended the base API and added their own methods. They were wrong to do it and Sun quite rightly made them change their minds.

In order for Java to be truly write-once-run-anywhere there has to be a policeman. We are lucky that that policeman is Sun and not Microsoft. Without Sun, Java would now be dead on the client side.

Microsoft have now developed C#. This is a blantant copy of Java that makes use of Microsoft OS specific features. It will not run on other OS's. I hope C# will die. It has no use other than to tie more poor unfortunate companies into Microsoft's proprietry software.

Microsoft do not play fair and are not trying to further the free competition in the software arena. I hope Sun continue to force them to play the rules they signed up to.

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