So What Else is New?

In the latest fallout from the Sun/Microsoft Java divorce case, Microsoft has declined to bundle Java Virtual Machines (JVMs) with the upcoming Windows XP operating system. Instead, users accessing web pages with Java in them will be greeted with blanks in parts of the screen, and security warnings if any Java program tries to execute. If you need a JVM, you'll either have to download it from Microsoft or hopefully get it bundled by your PC manufacturer.

Although the move appears a body blow to Java, in reality, nothing has changed. Java lost the battle for the client years ago, and not just because of Microsoft's FUD campaign. Users rejected Java on the client because downloading applets and running them added too much computing overhead. Give us Pure HTML. Please.

OK, maybe there might be some inconvenience to users with JavaScript, which also uses JVMs. Otherwise, the JVM spat is much ado about nothing. That's because of one thing that Microsoft and Sun actually agree on: In the future, the server will be where the action is. Microsoft has conceded as much by promoting its emerging .NET software-by-Internet-subscription licenses.

Instead, the real battle for the hearts and minds of application development groups and technology vendors will come when the .NET technology framework emerges (probably mid Q4), providing a choice between Java's write once, run (almost) anywhere vs. Microsoft's write-in-any-language, run-on-Windows model. At that point, Microsoft will offer a technology answer whose versatility might give Java real competition at last.

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About the Author

Tony Baer is principal with onStrategies, a New York-based consulting firm, and editor of Computer Finance, a monthly journal on IT economics. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].