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I don't need a California court to tell me that Microsoft has breached their commitment to Java. Their attacks on Java portability, its very heart and soul, are blatant and painfully obvious. It's time to move on, and I think the solution to the Microsoft problem is simple.

Let's just make Microsoft irrelevant. In fact, let's watch while Microsoft makes itself irrelevant to the entire Java developer community. They have no intention of supporting us, so let's not waste any more precious time and energy trying to persuade them to. Microsoft walked away from their partnership with us. We asked them to cooperate, but they chose not to. End of story.

We can make Microsoft irrelevant precisely by building the innovative Java solutions they are most afraid of. Our best strategy is to forge ahead with the building of Java success. Adopt JFC, use it well and show the world what it can do. Look into the opportunities that are emerging in thin-client computing: they are nothing short of stunning. We live in an incredibly positive and exciting time for Java development and who among us will cry because Microsoft decided not to attend the party? It is their loss, not ours.

Windows is critical to our Java success, but that doesn't mean we need Microsoft's support. There are several other capable and committed Java implementers in the Windows arena. Borland, Symantec, IBM and JavaSoft each have fine products that help ensure our ability to succeed with Java on Windows. IBM has even opened Java testing centers around the world that any of us can use free of charge. IBM's support for Java is unequivocal, and they are demonstrating clearly that they care about developers. Perhaps IBM has a renewed understanding of what industry leadership is all about?

Even on the Web it may be possible to neutralize some of the incompatibilities Microsoft has created for Java applets. You can apparently fix RMI in Internet Explorer simply by copying the required classes into the IE4 Java directory. It shouldn't be too hard to create a patch that will help anyone fix this intentional shortcoming. I heard that Microsoft even distributed one, but I couldn't locate it.

Moreover, the Web browser may not have as much significance as has been suggested in the media. It is important to remember that many of us are building Java applications and the user's Web browser will have little or no bearing on the operation of Java applications. For applications, it is the JVM that is critical, and it is relatively easy to ship a fully compliant JVM as part of any major Java product. In this important area Microsoft was already irrelevant, though they could easily have been supportive.

For maximum success it is essential to create our software with portability in mind. The investment we make in preserving portability will be repaid many times as we deploy our products on platform after platform without even recompiling. This is no pipe dream; I have seen it happen myself. It is intensely satisfying to see your application run on a new platform without any additional effort whatsoever. The value of Java's portability simply cannot be overstated, it is truly what the excitement is all about.

Anyway, let's not cry over spilled milk. It would have been great if Microsoft's commitment to Java had been real, but it isn't. What"s real, however, is the enormous opportunity waiting for us as Java developers. This computing revolution is just getting started and Java has what it takes to move us into the next phase, one that will be more exciting and lucrative than all the others before it.

About the Author
Rick Ross is the founder of the Java Lobby (www.JavaLobby.org), which currently has more than 8,000 members. He is President of Activated Intelligence and can be reached at [email protected]

 

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