By William Fellows Microsoft Corp and 22 other companies have voted to support the creation of a committee to kick-start the process of standardizing Sun Microsystems Inc’s Java technology. Hewlett- Packard and NEC abstained and Compaq Computer voted no while Dell Computer did not vote at all. At a meeting in Kyoto, Japan, the European […]
By William Fellows
Microsoft Corp and 22 other companies have voted to support the creation of a committee to kick-start the process of standardizing Sun Microsystems Inc’s Java technology. Hewlett- Packard and NEC abstained and Compaq Computer voted no while Dell Computer did not vote at all. At a meeting in Kyoto, Japan, the European Computer Manufacturers Association (ECMA) TC41 committee is expected to submit specifications for Java to the International Standards Organization’s fast-track process by the end of the year.
Microsoft says that so far ECMA secretary general Jan van der Beld and members of the general assembly have gone out of their way to assure us that the ECMA technical committee will operate like every other technical committee – that it will be open, that it will do true work to make Java better, and that no one company will have any undue influence on its process.
Sun abandoned a previous initiative to standardize Java through ISO’s Publicly Approved Submitter precisely because it appeared it would have to give up control over the future development and maintenance of Java specifications.
Sun’s initial overture to ECMA proposed the standards body approve its Java Community Process as the vehicle for the development of future Java specifications. However, the revised instructions to the technical committee indicate clearly that it operate under ECMA’s standard rules and that TC41 will oversee development and maintenance.
That means one vote per company when it comes to deciding what to include and what to leave out. As long as the process remains open and we feel it is moving forward, Microsoft will participate, said Microsoft standards representative John Montgomery. At this point, there is a short list of proposals Microsoft is considering making. Sun VP of Java architecture Jim Mitchell has been widely-reported as saying that if Microsoft load[s] up the specification with technology of its own, that Sun would use its copyright and not go forward with ECMA. Montgomery told ComputerWire that none of them are Windows- oriented.
Montgomery said there are still a bunch of issues to be hammered out including ownership and what can really be done with any standard that might come out of ECMA.
Microsoft went on to claim that, in what amounts to a frightening turn of events, Sun has started to say that there is no such thing as a clean-room version of Java – in other words, there is no such thing as independent development. Well, not quite. Sun says clean-room implementations of any ECMA specifications should carry their own brand. Not Java. Sun says only compatible implementations from those companies bearing a license will be able to call their products Java. TC41 is due to meet in the Bay Area on August 11 and 12.