JavaOne: Sun focuses on Java to clients

Providing a consistent way to run Java programs on PCs, mobile phones and other client computers is the next hurdle in the...

Providing a consistent way to run Java programs on PCs, mobile phones and other client computers is the next hurdle in the evolution of Sun's Java technology, according to the head of Java and XML at Sun Microsystems.

With Java now an established technology for creating business-to-business and other server-side applications, developers need a standard way to extend those server programs and make them accessible from a growing universe of Java-enabled client devices, said Rich Green, vice-president and general manager for Java and XML at Sun.

"We take the position of clients very seriously," Green said at Sun's JavaOne conference. "The role of clients in driving the network architecture is paramount to the whole Java model."

Sun has submitted a proposal to the Java Community Process that defines a standard way for developers to extend Java-based Web services applications to phones, PDAs and other devices that use Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME), he announced.

Included in the specification will be application programming interfaces (APIs) and other technologies that provide a standard way for delivering Web services applications to portable devices.

The Java Community Process is a multivendor group set up by Sun to consider new Java standards.

The proposal is backed by tools makers including Borland Software, and Metrowerks as well as gadget makers Research in Motion, Siemens and Nokia, according to Green. Sun hopes it will be ready for approval by mid-2003.

"What this technology is designed to do is extend the Web services standards - the SOAP and XML protocols - to Java handsets," and other client devices, he said.

Green is also trying to enforce a common Java runtime environment for desktop PCs. He said that Microsoft should be required to include a current Java Virtual Machine with Windows XP and other Microsoft products, which should ensure that those products can run Java programs.

Microsoft's .net software products are Java's main rival, and Microsoft recently stopped supporting the technology in its products. Many PC makers have made up for the omission by installing Java virtual machines (JVMs) on PCs before selling them.

He also announced two new JVMs for gadgets that he said should boost performance and graphics capabilities and help to conserve battery life. Developed under the code name Project Monty, the new JVMs from Sun make use of a compiler technology used in its HotSpot VM for servers, he said.

Green also encouraged developers to write Java applications for mobile devices. Some 15 handset vendors offer phones that run Java programs, and about 17 million Java phones were in use worldwide by February this year, Green said.

"This is the year of wireless Java," declared Jouko Hayrynen, vice-president of software for Nokia, who announced a service that helps wireless application developers find customers for their software. The Nokia Tradepoint Broker Service is a Web site where developers can post and sell new J2ME applications. Nokia hopes the service will be used for both consumer and enterprise applications, Hayrynen said.

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