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Sun pitches JavaFX Mobile into RIA squabble

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Sun Microsystems has upped its ante in the rich internet application battle for mobile mind-share, just as Microsoft and Adobe Systems traded shots at each other.

On Thursday, the systems and server company released a version of JavaFX for mobile devices here, branded JavaFX Mobile by marketing types but known to coders as JavaFX 1.1.

Sun also said that "several" leading handset manufacturers, service providers, and ISVs are working with it to ship handsets using JavaFX 1.1.

Sony Ericsson said it planned to bring JavaFX to a "significant part" of its product portfolio, and LG Electronics said it looked forward to being the first company to deliver a JavaFX enabled handset. Spring, Orange, Cynergy, and MobiTV talked in more general terms of "leveraging" JavaFX and of opportunities and "optimized experiences" - without getting specific.

The companies are a year behind Sun's original plans. Sun chief executive Jonathan Schwartz in May 2007 said he expected JavaFX Mobile handsets "in the first half of calender 08."

JavaFX 1.1 updates JavaFX 1.0, which Sun delivered last December. It adds a mobile runtime component that improves support for mobile devices, and it includes a Software Development Kit (complete with emulator) to build JavaFX mobile applications.

The release is designed to capture attention at next week's massive Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Sun plans to premier JavaFX at the event.

Sun isn't the only one that hopes to cash in on the attention that will surround the Mobile World Congress. Adobe and Microsoft are expected to make announcements around software or services that work across mobile devices, extending their fight on the desktop.

One focus for that fight has been media players - Microsoft's Silverlight versus Adobe's Flash and AIR, which uses Flash. Adobe's chief financial officer Mark Garrett dismissed Silverlight on Wednesday, telling Wall Street that Silverlight had "really fizzled out in the last six to nine months." Garret didn't serve up any data points.

In a testament to the pressure, expectations, and sensitivities surrounding rich internet applications, Microsoft today shot back at Garret.

Tim Sneath, director of client platform evangelism, claimed 100 million successful installations of Silverlight 2, which shipped just four months ago on consumer PCs.

Sneath also listed the Home Shopping Network and Italian broadcaster RAI as using Silverlight 2.0 in their respective streaming and portal services, with UK satellite broadcaster Sky using Silverlight for video on demand. "It's almost amusing to read about stagnation when we're seeing the Silverlight ecosystem really build momentum," Sneath claimed.

In short, don't let Adobe "confuse the debate." Let Microsoft do it too. ®

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