Java Expo: Zander announces Java licensing upgrade

Kicking off the Java Business Expo here yesterday, Sun Microsystems chief operating officer Ed Zander announced Java 2, an overhaul of the platform and programming language, as well as initiatives to open up the language's development process to a broader array of developers and users.

Java 2, up to now called that Java Development Kit 1.2, is a "complete rewrite of the Java platform", Zander said. The new version of the JDK was officially announced at an event in New York last night. But in his keynote, Zander took time to list the salient features of Java 2 and related technology.

These include faster runtime, improved garbage collection, new class libraries, and an improved security model. In addition, enhanced localisation of Java 2 means the technology is "world-ready," Zander said.

But mainly, Zander stressed that with Java 2 and a new series of related APIs (application programming interfaces) Java is now ready to be an applications development and deployment platform for industry-strength applications.

"We pounded the heck out of this thing in terms of stability," Zander said.

Zander also announced new initiatives that expand the ways that different types of users and developers can participate in the development of the Java platform.

Even some of Java's big backers, like Hewlett-Packard, have pushed Sun towards adopting more of an open source development model, in which the creator of a technology opens up the bug fixing and development process to the developer community at large.

"We're combining the best of both worlds . . . open source with assuring compatibility for Java applications," Zander said.

The new initiatives include the following:

The ability for Java licensees that are commercial entities to use and modify source code without intervention from Sun. Commercial businesses can also now modify and share source code without charge and mediation from Sun.

A broader participation in the API development process, opening it up to industry experts, standards bodies, and researchers.

Some business partners will also now head groups chartered with tuning the Java platform for specific uses; for example, IBM will head a group working on specifications for real-time Java, Zander said.