Feeds

First Direct online banking locks out WinXP with Sun Java

Wrong kind of Java standard, apparently...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The essential guide to IT transformation

Microsoft's efforts to "kill cross-platform Java" by growing "the polluted Java market" seem to be bearing fruit in at least one place. The Internet banking arm of UK bank First Direct supports the Microsoft Virtual Machine (nee JVM) on Windows XP machines, but not Sun's Java plug-in for XP, which is of course 'proper' Java, as opposed to the one we polluted earlier. This has the bizarre effect of locking out Microsoft browsers, but strange things can happen in standards wars.

Sun's production of the plug-in was a consequence of Microsoft starting to ship 'IE Unplugged' from version 6.0. This meant that people using XP out of the box or IE 6.0 on another Microsoft platform would have the MVM, but not Java as such. This obviously has long term implications for Java if Microsoft succeeds in getting its rival established, but as Java is cross-platform, and already a long way ahead, it's more than a little weird to find a site not supporting it today.

That however is what First Direct customer Ashley Dando found when he installed the Sun Java plug-in on his XP machine. "It's way faster [than the MS version] and everything else I use that's Java works beautifully," he told The Register. "I cannot believe I've been putting up with dog-slow Java execution all this time. Plus Microsoft's JVM blue-screened my XP box at least once a day."

The First Direct site now however tells him his Java plug-in isn't supported. So if he continues to use official Java he now no longer has access to his accounts via the company's PC Banking service. Presumably this will be the case for any customer using IE6 who has rashly popped over to Sun to get themselves standardised.

First Direct's response to Ashley's queries suggests that this may be more than just a random piece of blockheadery. It confirms that: "At present, PC Banking will run with Microsoft's Java Virtual Machine only. We are aware of the lack of the Java plug-in for Windows XP, and at present our tests are continuing on this platform. We are assessing the recent changes to Java. However, I am not sure whether we will be supporting any other Java standard going forward."

Heroic stuff, isn't it? The Java supplied by the actual custodian of the Java standard has been busted down to the status of "any other Java standard", while the Microsoft one that's only standard in Microsoftland is promoted ahead of it. Exquisitely, it appears that First Direct is doing this despite it not being a Microsoft shop. A quick visit to the good people at Netcraft reveals that firstdirect.com runs Netscape 4.1 on HP-UX servers. And judging from The Register's scamper around it (Opera 5.11, Sun Java plug-in), quite snappy it is too. Not being customers, we weren't in a position to tell whether it would tell us to go away or not. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Intel's Raspberry Pi rival Galileo can now run Windows
Behold the Internet of Things. Wintel Things
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Eat up Martha! Microsoft slings handwriting recog into OneNote on Android
Freehand input on non-Windows kit for the first time
Time to move away from Windows 7 ... whoa, whoa, who said anything about Windows 8?
Start migrating now to avoid another XPocalypse – Gartner
You'll find Yoda at the back of every IT conference
The piss always taking is he. Bastard the.
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.