Sun has hit back at Hewlett Packard and threatened to sue the company over intellectual property infringements, after the manufacturer said it would develop its own version of Java.
As revealed in PC Dealer (25 March), HP threw the control of Java into question when it revealed it was moving into software development with its own Java Virtual Machine (JVM).
Alan Baratz, president at Javasoft, slammed HP for developing a disparate version of Java. He said: 'Microsoft promised ActiveX would become open in the future. Have you heard anything about that? Now one company (HP) is using the same process with only a promise to become open.'
He said HP was wrong because it is making its own version of Java without consultation and open standards. 'Some industry titans, that think they can build technology in a closed room and promise to make it open in the future, are missing the boat and losing sight of what is going on,' he said.
Baratz attempted to play down the scale of the rift between Sun and HP.
'We have had discussions with (HP chief executive) Lew Platt since its announcement, to move it on to the path other licensees took,' he said.
He claimed he even asked whether HP would adhere to Sun's licence if it waived the licensing fees and HP refused - although it had complained about the scale of these fees.
According to Baratz, HP suggested a traditional standards process like the Open Group.
Baratz confirmed that Sun will protect its intellectual property if HP has used Sun's Java code without adhering to its licence, but said: 'I hope that it does not come to that.'
HP is one of the major sponsors of Java One and even promoted the fact that it has been 100 per cent Java-compliant for over 12 months.
The timing of HP's announcement, made by Sun's rival in the server and workstation market just two days before Sun's showpiece event, is clearly designed to damage Sun's positive stance on Java.
George Pellini, marketing director of Javasoft, agreed that HP's move was an attempt to undermine Sun. 'Making that kind of announcement at that time? It shows the event's importance,' he said.
Meanwhile, Sun will port Java to Microsoft Windows CE and deliver Java OS tool specifications for televisions, cars and telephones in the autumn, to maintain the development momentum behind the technology.
A developer programme, Sun Developer Connection, was launched at the event to merge all existing worldwide programmes for US developers.
Despite Sun's claim that it cares about its non-US developers, which provide about 60 per cent of Java software, the programme will only be launched in other countries within six months, the company admitted.
It replaced Catalyst, the original developer programme Sun started 14 years ago.
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