US Java adoption picks up steam as Sun lawsuit adds to publicity

US Java adoption picks up steam as Sun lawsuit adds to publicityTom Foremski US companies appear to be embracing Sun Microsystems’ Java computer language strongly, with a huge jump in the number of users, writes Tom Foremski. According to US market research firm International Data Corporation (IDC), more than 45 per cent of US companies participating in a recent survey say that they are using Java, representing an 11 per cent increase over three months. IDC says that Java momentum has not been affected by anti-Java sentiment and a lawsuit between Microsoft and Sun over Java license agreements. “If anything Java has picked up steam. The publicity swirling around the Sun versus Microsoft suits and the ground swell of support by Java die-hards helped fuel the surprisingly swift adoption rate of Java in US companies of all sizes,” said senior IDC analyst Evan Quinn. The survey questioned 800 companies of various sizes in different industries. The fastest growth in Java adoption over the last three months was in small companies which grew by 15 per cent compared with 12 per cent growth in Java use among large companies. Some fancifully claim Java has now displaced C and C++ as the dominant computer language worldwide with an estimated 800,000 Java programmers. And it is finding wide spread use in embedded systems with companies such as Motorola, Texas Instruments, IBM, Sony and Ericsson among recent licensees of Java technologies. At the recent JavaOne conference in San Francisco, Sun CEO Scott McNealy denied reports that Java momentum is slowing, mentioning a long list of Java adopters and companies such as IBM producing new Java applications. Sun chief operating officer Ed Zander spoke about the huge number of developers behind Java and the large number of new start-ups focusing on Java, noting that the Java Fund venture capital fund, has more than 700 business plans from start-ups. While the widespread and still growing base of Java users is a testament to Sun’s efforts in popularising the language, it is not all going well, at least from Sun’s perspective. The main push for Sun is that developers support Java as a cross-platform language. If it can succeed with this focus, it effectively dismantles Microsoft’s dominance of the PC platform. After all, if developers can create just one application and have it run on a wide variety of platforms, there is no need to write to Microsoft’s Windows platform and then port applications to other platforms. But Microsoft is not going along with Sun’s cross-platform push. It has been customising Java for the Windows platform and is being sued by Sun for those efforts. “I don’t think there is much that Sun can do about Microsoft optimising Java for Windows platforms. It owns 80 per cent of the desktop market,” notes Ron Rappaport, industry analyst at US market research firm Zona Research.
And Microsoft is not the only one moving this way. Apple Computer is working with Microsoft to optimise Java for PowerPC systems and other companies are working on similar technologies.

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