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Gosling succumbs to 'road more travelled'

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James Gosling, the father of Java, has joined Google – despite his previous criticism of the company's Java-happy Android operating system.

Gosling announced his new job with a post to his personal blog entitled "Next step on the road", but did not provide specifics. "Through some odd twists in the road over the past year, and a tardis encountered along the way, I find myself starting employment at Google today. One of the toughest things about life is making choices. I had a hard time saying 'no' to a bunch of other excellent possibilities. I find it odd that this time I’m taking the road more travelled by, but it looks like interesting fun with huge leverage," he wrote.

"I don't know what I'll be working on. I expect it'll be a bit of everything, seasoned with a large dose of grumpy curmudgeon."

When Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems last year, Gosling did not join Larry Ellison and company, and he has openly voiced his disdain for the operation, referring to Ellison as "LPOD", short for "Larry, Prince of Darkness".

"Ethics and consistency aren't exactly the LPOD's reputation: he's famously a fan of a quote attributed to Genghis Khan: 'It's not enough that we win; all others must lose,'" Gosling wrote in August, arguing that Oracle had no intention of honoring its December 2007 resolution for the Java Community Process to become an open, independent, and vendor-neutral standards organization.

"This resolution in 2007 was all part of a control game played by Oracle, no high-minded principles involved at all. Now that they have a different point of view, it's clear that this resolution being honored is about as likely as pigs growing wings."

And he was right.

In the fall, Oracle sued Google over its use of Java in Android, and at the time, Gosling said the suit was "not a big surprise", claiming he knew legal action was on the way from the earliest days of the Sun acquisition. "During the integration meetings between Sun and Oracle, where we were being grilled about the patent situation between Sun and Google, we could see the Oracle lawyer's eyes sparkle," he wrote.

Clearly, Gosling doesn't agree with the suit. But he's also been highly critical of how Google has run Android, arguing that the company has undermined the famous "write once, run anywhere" Java ethos. "When Google came to us with their thoughts on cellphones, one of their core principles was making the platform free to handset providers," he wrote in another post.

"They had very weak notions of interoperability, which, given our history, we strongly objected to. Android has pretty much played out the way that we feared: there is enough fragmentation among Android handsets to significantly restrict the freedom of software developers."

In the Oracle v Google spat, he said, there are "no guiltless parties with white hats in this little drama. This skirmish isn't much about patents or principles or programming languages. The suit is far more about ego, money, and power."

Back in the day, Microsoft was the number one enemy of Java. Sun actually sued Redmond (and won) when the company tried to tie Java to Windows. But in the wake of Oracle's suit, Gosling said that among today's software giants, Microsoft is the closest thing to a white hat. "It's a sad comment on the morality of large modern software companies that Microsoft, while I don't think they've gotten any better since Sun sued them, probably has the high ground." ®

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