Scott McNealy was a worried man yesterday. Not over Sun Microsystems Inc's financial performance. Instead, Sun's chairman and chief executive is postponing retirement to battle Microsoft Corp and protect his children's future,Gavin Clarke writes
Speaking at Palo Alto, California-based Sun's JavaOne developer conference yesterday, McNealy warned of Microsoft's potential to add propriety extensions to industry-based XML standards like Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP).
McNealy said extensions would lock developers into Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft products, reducing interoperability. His proof? Microsoft's past. "Microsoft were contractually obligated to stay interoperable with Java and they didn't," he said.
Asked what evidence Sun had that Microsoft is extending protocols like SOAP, a thoughtful McNealy rebutted: "Evidence? Inevitable, unstoppable, never wavered behavior. Watch their releases for products with proprietary XML tags."
The normally biting McNealy delivered a curiously under-par JavaOne keynote speech that urged developers to evangelize Java, and prevent Microsoft's take-over of web services. McNealy urged developers to test applications against all browsers, for example, such as Opera and NetScape - not just Internet Explorer (IE). Failure to do so, he warned, created dependency on Microsoft.
"You can take the offer from the dark side. The first hit of heroin is free," McNealy warned. "Continue to evangelize this [Java] platform. You can't spend lots of money on analysts and media or press, it's up to you to evangelize. People ask why I'm negative: it's because I can't leave my kids to a world of control, alt, delete," he joked.
McNealy announced Sun's admission of open source developers to the Java Community Process (JCP), revealed by Computerwire yesterday. Sun has collaborated with the Apache Software Foundation so open source developers can submit JSRs - the precursor to a Java API - to the JCP. Sun will release JSRs that it has sponsored under open source license, and compatibility test suites will be made available to non-profit and academic organizations. "We have just made the Java community much tighter and much more broader in one move," McNealy said.
He compared the JCP, Sun ONE developer community - which he extended to include Unix and Solaris, Gini, iPlanet and Forte - and open source community to an alliance against Microsoft and .NET. McNealy claimed Java had won its battle against other programming languages, and today's conflict is a straight fight with .NET.
McNealy conceded, though, that Sun was unable to accurately calculate today's number of Java programmers - claimed to be three million by Sun's vice president and general manager of XML and Java Rich Green. "I really believe that it is mankind versus the other architecture, and mankind is going to win," he said.
A rare glint of the regular McNealy style surfaced when Sun's chief touched on security. Pointing to Microsoft's Trusted Computing initiative, announced through a Bill Gates e-mail that was reportedly leaked to the press, McNealy said: "I didn't have to write a letter to all my employees and leak it to the press saying security was important. I guess that's why they pay Bill the big bucks. We have been doing trusted Solaris for ever."
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