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United in dissent

发布时间:2019-03-08 09:16:04来源:未知点击:

By Kurt Kleiner in Washington DC A DRIVE towards a single language that will run on any type of computer was dealt a blow last week when 14 companies split with Sun Microsystems over the future of its Java programming language. The companies, led by Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft, said they would develop their own version of the Java language independent of Sun, heralding the development of two or more similar—but incompatible—forms of Java. Java, which is now widely used to create small programs called applets that add new features to Web pages, promises to allow programmers to write a program only once, rather than having to write separate versions for Windows, Macintosh, Unix and other operating systems such as Linux. This is possible because for each type of computer, there’s a program called a Java virtual machine that translates Java into a form the computer’s microprocessor can understand. The idea was championed by Sun, which has been fighting to maintained a single standard. Although the rules of the Java programming language are public, allowing anyone to write programs, programmers have to license the Java name from Sun, which holds the trademark. Sun is still waiting for a decision from a federal judge in a lawsuit it filed against Microsoft over use of the Java name. Sun alleges that Microsoft made unauthorised changes to the Java language in an effort to fragment the Java market and ensure that most Java programs would work only with Microsoft’s Windows operating system. Sun wants the courts to stop Microsoft advertising its version of the language as “true Java”. The latest split is the result of a dispute over a relatively small subset of the Java language, used for what are known as embedded systems. These are programs buried deep within the control systems of, for instance, a printer or an assembly line robot. They have to perform consistently and react to rapidly changing input data. Programmers developing embedded systems need software tools that ensure the devices don’t crash or suffer long delays. Members of the Hewlett-Packard/Microsoft coalition complain that Sun is unfairly dominating the standards-setting process, refusing to allow other companies to participate fully and hindering creation of development tools. They say that having split from Sun, they will adopt a more open development process. Rob Enderle, an analyst with Giga Information of Norwall, Massachusetts, agrees that the split is probably the beginning of the end for a unified Java language. Java may even fragment further, possibly under different names if Sun wins the right to control the Java name. Enderle blames Sun for trying to keep control of Java to maintain a market advantage for its own computer workstation. “The way to save Java is to spin it off into a separate entity. But once a divergence such as this occurs, even if they spin it off,