Users of Microsoft's Java Virtual Machine (JVM) have an extra three years to drop the software and migrate to Microsoft's .net or a competing Java product following the company's deal with Sun Microsystems earlier this month.
Microsoft was set to end support for its JVM on 30 September, much to the dismay of developers who built applications to work with the software.
Now Microsoft has extended security patch support for its JVM until 31 December 2007, Brian Keller, a Microsoft product manager, said Tuesday. Security patches are the only support Microsoft currently provides for the JVM.
"This is certainly very good for many of our customers. It means they have over three additional years to migrate their applications. In some cases those applications were already set to retire before 2007," Keller said. The extension was agreed on in the settlement and collaboration pact Microsoft struck with Sun Microsystems earlier this month.
A JVM software enables users to run applications written in Java, the programming language created by Sun. Many developers have built applications for Microsoft's JVM because the software is widely distributed. Most Windows users have Microsoft's JVM installed, according to Keller.
Java applets are widely used to make websites, such as banking and shopping sites, more dynamic.
After a feud over Microsoft's alleged misuse of Sun's Java technology, the companies agreed in a legal settlement in 2001 that Microsoft would retire its JVM on 2 January 2004. Microsoft and Sun last October agreed to an extension until September 2004 and earlier this month further extended the period in which Microsoft can provide security patches for its JVM until the end of 2007.
Microsoft advised customers not to put off moving from its JVM. The software is outdated because Microsoft, under its agreement with Sun, has not been allowed to enhance it but only to provide critical security patches, Keller said.
Extending support is good news for users, said John Rymer, vice-president at Forrester Research. "Users faced a forced migration, essentially one that created no value, replacing one JVM with another," he said. Many users are not interested in migrating to Microsoft's .net platform but want to stay with Java.
Microsoft has set up a website (www.microsoft.com/java) to advise customers of their options, which includes migrating to the Microsoft .net framework or to a different JVM. Microsoft provides tools, such as its Visual J# .net, to help developers migrate their Java applets and applications to its .net framework.
Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service