My column two months ago, "Sunset on the Evil Empire," stirred up a great deal of controversy. Part of it was my fault, as I was trying to make two distinct points in the article, and that elicited a great deal of excitement directed at one point or the other. My first point, which I made in a curmudgeonly manner, was that Windows 95/98/Me is unstable, and that I was unhappy with that DOS-based platform. My second point concerned the Sun-Microsoft lawsuit settlement, in which we, the consumers, were the true losers.
With regard to the first point, I received a variety of responses. Several readers encouraged me to look at the Windows 2000 platform as a much more stable environment. I have, by the way. And I've been running its older brother NT for years. For a development platform I find it fairly stable, although I was able to crash it the other day by running five or six separate VMs and killing the virtual memory.
Other readers recommended the usual variety of operating systems. "Try Linux," they said. Or, "The Mac is a great platform." Agreed. I have Linux, Solaris, and HP-UX running at home. I like the Gnome interface on Linux, and find the CDE environment so similar that it's hard for me to tell whether I'm running the Sun box or the HP. I haven't tried a Mac in years, but OS X might tempt me.
Some readers were incensed that I wasn't impressed with the consumer version of Microsoft's operating system. "Spam," one reader called it. Another called me a "Charter member of the 'I hate Microsoft club,'" which I found pretty amusing as most of the folks on that side of the house wanted to shoot me when I ran a DCOM article a year or so ago.
In any case, I made a mistake ranting about operating systems, because doing that is like arguing religion - it can be fun, but nobody ever resolves anything.
Now concerning my second point, I received still more comments. I'm disappointed in the decision, because it means no Java integration into a very large set of applications that are used by the majority of end users in the world. I would have loved to see Java as an alternative scripting language to VBA, and certainly JSP would have been a nice alternative to ASP for IIS. Instead we get to use C# and .NET.
Once again readers were of two minds. Some felt that Java was making the Windows platform and its accompanying set of applications irrelevant. I disagree with some of that, mainly the part about the applications. Certainly the "write once, run anywhere" approach, combined with J2EE, has made selection of a server more a matter of hardware compatibility and scalability than software features, which is what I think Sun intended all along.
Other readers thought that Java was becoming irrelevant and blamed Sun for trying to control the hottest language in the market rather than moving it to a true open standard. I have a hard time believing the hottest language in the market will become irrelevant, but I do understand how the open standard issue is affecting acceptance...and not affecting it.
The one I liked best, though, came from a Microsoft employee in the IIS division. Of all the Microsoft-centric replies, his was actually the most polite. He suggested that there was no reason a vendor couldn't build a Java version of the common runtime for .NET, effectively creating Java on the Microsoft platform. And he's right, although from a Java perspective I think that's backwards. It's moving the mountain to Mohammed. Still, it was an intelligent, interesting comment, and I hope someone accomplishes it.
So why did I recap this at all? Because I wanted to let you all know that I do read your e-mails, and that we at JDJ value your input. Obviously, this was a topic near and dear to all of your hearts, and there were as many opinions as there are readers. Those of you who haven't written, I'd like to hear your views too.
Sean Rhody is the founding editor of Java Developer's Journal. He is also a respected industry
expert and a consultant with a leading Internet service company. Mr Rhody can be contacted at