Sun's Java upgrade is faster and easy to use

Sun Microsystems has upgraded its programming language Java 2 Platform Standard Edition (J2SE) with more than 100 new features...

Sun Microsystems has upgraded its programming language Java 2 Platform Standard Edition (J2SE) with more than 100 new features designed to bolster ease of use, performance and scalability, and desktop development.

J2SE 5.0 includes what Sun officials claim are the most significant enhancements to the Java development platform and language since the initial release almost a decade ago.

But developers will not have to wait another 10 years for Tiger's successor. J2SE 6.0, now called Mustang, is scheduled for the spring of 2006. It will feature increased performance and added support for XML and web services.

Developers can download J2SE 5.0 from Sun's website now. The company said new features supporting faster and more secure coding should help boost Java programmer productivity. The upgrade also supports faster start-up times and a smaller memory footprint.

J2SE 5.0 is an important step for Java in its ongoing battle against Microsoft's .Net development environment, said Stephen O'Grady, an analyst at RedMonk. The streamlined start-up times and a friendlier graphical user interface should be especially welcome additions to Java users, he said.

"From a user's perspective, (Sun) has updated the look and feel. It looks good. It's cleaner, and it's more modern."

The enhancements in J2SE 5.0 mirror demands from corporate users for enterprise-oriented capabilities, such as the need to manage and monitor applications, said Thomas Murphy, an analyst at Meta Group. He added that with the new release, Sun "certainly is trying to make a big push to come back again on the client side".

J2SE 5.0 was developed through the Java Community Process, and Sun said an "expert group" of about 160 workers from different companies was involved in the project.

Sun listed 14 other technology suppliers and organisations that took part, including BEA Systems, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Oracle and SAP.

Heather Havenstein writes for ComputerWorld

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