Sun advances in Java 5.0 but users want more .net interoperability

At its annual user conference last week, Sun attempted to woo developers and business customers with new tools and a new point...

At its annual user conference last week, Sun attempted to woo developers and business customers with new tools and a new point release of the Java language. But users said advances in security and interoperability were what they needed.

Joe Keller, Sun's vice-president of Java web services, called the latest version of Java - Java Standard Edition 5.0 - "the biggest change of the language since its invention [almost 10 years ago]".

Also known as Java 2 Standard Edition 1.5, or Tiger, it has a smaller footprint and support for metadata as well as improved performance and start-up time. It has facilities for developers to tune Java code performance, support for Java Management Extensions, a profiling API and enhanced security. The platform is expected to ship this summer.

Omer Rana, senior lecturer at the University of Wales' department of computer science, welcomed many of the new features in Java Standard Edition 5.0, but said Sun needed to strengthen security features. "There are concerns over security and how you can add, define and integrate user profiles effectively," he said.

Earlier this year, Sun and Microsoft agreed to collaborate on Windows server and client support and to develop new server software products. But Rana said Sun faces interoperability hurdles with Microsoft's .net.

"We do a lot of work integrating Sun and Microsoft. There are overlaps between Microsoft's common language runtime and [J2EE], but Microsoft is trying to go its own route with .net. It is almost a contradiction having Sun and Microsoft in the same sentence," said Rana.

"I would be interested to find out how good Sun is at interfacing with Microsoft," said Mitul Mehta, managing director of analyst firm TekPlus. He added that Sun's focus on developers and users was positive, as was the attention to web services and component-based technologies.

Also at the conference, Sun released its Java Studio Creator tool, previously known as Project Rave, as an alternative to Microsoft's Visual Studio.

Java Studio Creator simplifies J2EE development so that less advanced developers can create Java applications. Sun said it hopes this will increase the number of Java developers from two million to more than 10 million.

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