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Sun switches Java standards efforts from ISO

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Alan Baratz, Java Software president, announced yesterday that Sun has decided to standardise Java through the Geneva-based ECMA rather than through the ISO directly. The JTC1 (Java Technical Committee) changed the rules in January, so that the committee would have responsibility for Java enhancements. Sun had the status of a publicly approved submitter (PAS). The Open Group and The OMG are backing the submission. The Java 2 Standard Edition submission (J2SE Version 1.2.2), which Baratz says was developed through the Java Community Process, will be made next month at the ECMA General Assembly in Kyoto and consists of the Java language spec, the JVM spec, and the Java API core class library. Once ECMA has approved it, it will go to ISO by a fast track. It may well be that Sun is wary of the pressures that Microsoft brought to bear on W3C in the "extend" phase of its embrace, extend, and extinguish strategy. ECMA, now called the European Association for Standardising Information and Communication Systems (formerly the European Computer Manufacturers Association), was created in 1960. It became a liaison member of TC97 of ISO and IEC for standardisation in the computing field, and subsequently part of ISO/IEC JTC1. Sun had an amusing flirt with ECMA in 1993. The aim at the time was to make it possible for Unix users to run 16-bit Windows apps in an open environment, without DOS or Windows, and also without emulation or modification to the Windows program. Sun did this because Microsoft would not license Windows source code to Sun on reasonable terms, although it had licensed it to Insignia, Bristol and Locus. In March 1994, Sun hosted a meeting of Microsoft, Novell, the European Commission and Scottish Enterprise at Gleneagles to discuss the desktop environment and Windows/open systems convergence. Imagine Microsoft's embarrassment when Sun made the meeting the launch of a Public Windows Interface (PWI), and followed this up by putting the proposal through ECMA. At the time, Microsoft was not a member of ECMA, and found itself powerless, although later of course, Microsoft became a member. And here's a rather jolly miscellaneous fact: Rule 1.1 of ECMA says: "The English language, as written in the United Kingdom, will be the official language of the Association." ®

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