The launch takes Sun a step closer to providing Java-based web services. Version 1.4 will put Sun and its Java partners, such as IBM and BEA, in a stronger position against the rival Microsoft .net web services platform and hopefully provide a credible alternative for users.
The J2EE 1.4 open standard platform brings together XML and Java technology to enable users, developers and suppliers to build web services into their applications. The aim is to enable collaborative working and allow easier data access. The product is also compatible with the J2EE 1.3 platform.
Suppliers, including Sun Microsystems, BEA, IBM, Oracle, Borland, Denmark's Trifork, Pramati Technologies in India and China-based Shenzhen Kingdee Middleware, have announced 1.4-compliant server or interoperability products.
Sun plans to launch J2EE version 1.5 in June, and to make it a commercial product in the summer of 2005. The company said version 1.5 would offer better development support and greater interoperability with other products.
Bola Rotiba, senior analyst for software development strategies at analyst group Ovum, said the upgrades would help Java gain ground on Microsoft's web services offering. ".net's foundation was built around web services, and J2EE is only now catching up," she said.