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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Intel, Microsoft Rap Sun's Grip on Java

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California -- A group of personal computer companies led by Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp. asked Sun Microsystems Inc. to cede control of the Java computer programming language to an independent body.


In an open letter to Sun executives, Intel and Microsoft, along with PC makers Compaq Computer Corp. and Digital Equipment Corp., said they were concerned that Sun, the inventor of Java, had too much control over a language that is quickly becoming a cornerstone of the Internet.


"Java is important for the industry and our customers," said Intel spokesman Tom Waldrop. "To us, it's important for the development of the Internet that Java remain an open standard."


The allure of Java is that it can be used to write software that runs on almost any kind of computer. Software written in other languages must be heavily modified or rewritten from scratch to run on more than one type of computer.


Sun, a computer maker based in Mountain View, California, has been pitching Java as the universal language for the global computer network. The company has insisted that any other company that wants to write software in Java or use the brand name has to adhere strictly to its specifications.


Sun has submitted technical information about Java to the International Standards Organization, an international forum that regulates technical standards. The company also has asked the ISO to recognize the language as a standard to be adhered to by other companies.


But Microsoft and some PC makers contend that Java cannot evolve and become an open, universal language if Sun dictates its direction.


"Sun should agree to turn over ownership of Java to ISO or another internationally recognized standards body," the letter read. "Sun should not expect ISO to recognize Java as an international standard if the specifications are owned and controlled by a single vendor."


The PC companies also asked Sun to give up control of the Java brand and let any company sell products with the name.


Sun countered that Microsoft and its supporters were trying to prevent Java from becoming an international standard because the computer language presents a fundamental threat to Microsoft and its Windows software standard, which controls the basic functions of about 80 percent of all PCs.


"The ultimate goal for Microsoft is for ISO to turn this down," said George Paolini, corporate marketing director for Sun's Java unit. He said Microsoft wanted to weaken Java and the threat to Windows by pushing its own version of Java.