Hewlett-Packard Co has become the latest, and the most significant company to develop a ‘clean room’ version of the Java virtual machine (JVM) tailored for embedded devices. The company has started shipping version 1.0 of the JVM and class library technology and has signed Microsoft Corp as its first licensee, which plans to embed it […]
Hewlett-Packard Co has become the latest, and the most significant company to develop a ‘clean room’ version of the Java virtual machine (JVM) tailored for embedded devices. The company has started shipping version 1.0 of the JVM and class library technology and has signed Microsoft Corp as its first licensee, which plans to embed it into its Windows CE compact operating system. HP is also a leading manufacturer of handheld PCs that run Windows CE. HP’s director of internet alliances, Jim Bell said one of the principal reasons HP developed the technology – the work started from scratch more than a year ago – was because Sun would not let HP participate fully enough in the development of its Embedded Java technology. Bell said HP had the latest of its face-to-face meetings with Sun’s senior management the week before last when it again offered Sun its services. HP’s Bell said it was always HP’s intention to license the technology, rather than develop it and it only began its work as a fall back strategy. However, Bell emphasized that HP remains a close partner of Sun in all other aspects of Java. HP’s development is completely separate from that of Java inventor Sun Microsystems Inc – HP is already a licensee of Java from Sun for its HP-UX machines – and HP is under no obligation to provide Sun with examples of its work. However, HP claims its version will be compatible with Sun’s JVM and that it will work with the industry to create open, universally accepted specifications for the use of [the] Java language in embedded systems. But the specification of Sun’s Embedded Java is not due for release until next week, so there is no way of knowing for sure whether the two are compatible, but Sun’s VP software products Jon Kannegaard said HP could take a pretty good guess as to what it comprises. And Bell points out that it already has a JVM from Sun it can work from, but he emphasized that it respects Sun’s technology protected by trademarks and intellectual property. In addition, HP views Sun’s licensing fees as excessive and claims that it wants to keep the technology out in the open, beyond the control of any one company, which is exactly what Sun would say about its implementation. HP also highlights the VM’s size – half a megabyte. Sun’s Kannegaard would not say how big Sun’s implementation would be, but he said the company is working on some very fancy technology to make it very small, without going into details. HP has a lot of devices in which it could use the technology, including printers, VeriFone credit card terminals, as well as the handheld PCs. HP is promising to release benchmark numbers for its technology soon, but Kannegaard said he is confident Sun’s technology will beat HP’s. Bell claimed its Java embedded clone has everything you need for real-time. Sun, of course has already got clearance to put the Java language specification, the core Java APIs, and Java virtual machine through the International Standards Organization (ISO), which should begin happening very soon. Kannegaard said it was too early to say whether Embedded Java might eventually be put through ISO. The timing of the announcement was no doubt designed to take some of the wind out of the sails of Sun ahead of the latter’s JavaOne conference starting tomorrow, Tuesday in San Francisco. Other companies we have heard developing similar technology include Tao Systems Ltd and Insignia Solutions Inc. The Open Group was also developing a version, called J-lite, but the status of that is unknown.