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Sun sneaks into enemy UPnP camp

Only joined for the free technical data, says exec

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Sun has joined Microsoft's Universal Plug and Play initiative, the UPnP Web site discretely noted t'other day.

A bizarre move, you might think, given Sun's Java-based Jini technology is a direct rival to UPnP. Both technologies are designed to allow network-connected devices to interoperate and communicate with each other on a peer-to-peer basis.

Sun's goal, the company's consumer technologies product marketing manager, Curtis Sasaki, told CNet, is merely to raid the UPnP Forum for technical information.

"Just because we're joining doesn't mean we're endorsing UPnP or that we support UPnP," Sasaki said. "We're joining to get information, because you can't get information unless you're a member. It's important to know what's going on in the rest of the world."

And why not? That's the best way of getting the inside info on a competitor, so you can't exactly blame Sun here.

"We'd [also] like to make sure that nothing gets tied to any proprietary environment," added Sasaki. Microsoft stresses the platform independence of UPnP, but that's primarily to make it clear it's not tied to Windows PCs. However, since Windows is itself migrating to other devices, you have to wonder how independent UPnP will remain. Microsoft sells operating software - ergo Microsoft will want to leverage any technology it can to boost those sales. It's why it's in business.

Neither Jini nor UPnP have made any real inroads into the market yet. UPnP support is built into Windows Me, apparently, but that's it. Jini doesn't seem to have fared any better. It's being used by 13-odd organisations and companies, including the US Army, but it's far from the critical mass that Sun originally envisioned. ®

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