Freedom of choice

Not too long agoéAugust 9, 2001éSun took a shot at Microsoft in the newspapers. In case you hadn't heard, Microsoft is removing the Java platform from its XP operating system. With Java being taught in most colleges and universities, running in Web pages and in consumer electronics, and being used by many companies in their enterprise applications, there seems to be every reason for Microsoft to include Java with its XP operation system. Microsoft's decision is consistent with its policy, as Sun puts it, "to control the innovation and openness that Java technology promotes."

I hope you agree with Sun when they say, "Demand that Microsoft include the Java platform in their XP operating system. And that the PC vendors like Dell, Compaq, Gateway, IBM, and HP include the Java platform on their systems. And if Microsoft still won't do it, a free copy of the latest Java platform will be available to download at java.sun.com. Sure, people will have to take one extra step, but at least they'll have a choice. Which is more than Microsoft is offering."

The people that are always forgotten about in these battles are the consumers. For me, users are the consumers and they should come first. Why can't Microsoft just adopt Java and help to make it better for everyone? They certainly have the talent to do it. Programmers and developers are two types of users, but there is also the Joe-average computer user. I feel the most sorry for this person. The computer industry has told Joe-average that computers are great and easy to use. Buy one, get connected, and get online. The Web is just waiting for you. Sure ... and my wife is Morgan Fairchild.

I have lost count of how many times I have been called over to a friend's house to get their computer going again after they tried to use or install something new. It seems the software—out of the box—is often an old version that won't work with what has already been installed or the hardware. The solution is often simple: get new drivers. However, if the hardware is for getting connected, that leaves consumers with a problem. They need to be connected to get the software to be connected.

What's the solution? I say give the consumers, users, developers, programmers, and companies what they want, what they need, and whatever makes their lives easier. The Java platform is free and it's used by many. Why deny people a choice they have already made? Like XML, which promotes open standards for data, Java does the same for code. Let the companies involved know how you feel. We will all be better for it!

About the Author

Dwight Deugo is a professor of computer science at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. Dwight has been an editor for SIGS and 101communications publications, and serves as chair of the Java Programming track at the SIGS Conference for Java Development. He can be reached via e-mail at deugo@scs.carleton.ca.

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