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Gritted teeth welcome for new Java licensing

Renegade HP and IBM snipers still shooting from the clock tower

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JavaOne At JavaOne today, representatives from HP, IBM and Compaq denied they'd ever even heard of openserver.org, the self-styled "standards body" they created six weeks ago to wrest control of Java from Sun.

But partisans remain in both companies. IBM said it wouldn't be basing its San Francisco frameworks on Enterprise Java Beans after all. San Francisco is the legacy of the Taligent frameworks it cooked up with Apple almost a decade ago, and it's been repositioned in almost every subsequent year. Given that IBM's customers have taken a wait-and-see approach to the San Francisco project, this may not be all that significant. Sun's spin is that that IBM couldn't afford to go it alone in WebSphere without EJB support, having got this far, and this is something that WebSphere developers we spoke to agreed with.

Hewlett Packard issued a deliciously worded press release entitled "HP Raises The Bar on Java Technology Excellence" which includes the memorable promise "to make Java technology more relevant for business-critical computing". It's purpose is to announce new SPEC benchmark results for HP's Java, but the subtext is fairly unmistakable.

However the openserver thrust does appear to have elicited more noises of contrition from Sun's Java Community Process managers.

Individuals can join the process for $100, non profit organisations for $2000, and commercial organisations for $5000, although Sun is happy to bend the rules to receive input from individual "experts".

Sun says its own employees chair only half of the spec leads (new additions to the Java platform) at the moment. Probably more pertinently, the JCP election process - with a third of representatives stepping down after each subsequent ballot - will gradually dilute Sun's dominance of the voting.

In fact, apart from IBM or HP, there were very few complaints about the new JCP either from developers at the show or from smaller Java vendors. A representative of the developers of the open source webserver Apache, present at the JCP birds of a feather session, told us he thought Sun had gone as far as it possibly could while retaining the control it needed to avoid fragmentation. Developers were far more concerned with bugs-by-stealth - where implementations don't match the specifications - than by royalty issues. ®

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