Sun Stands Firm

Part 1: Alan Baratz at Sun's Press Teleconference

PALO ALTO, Calif -- September 22, 1997 -- In a press teleconference today, Sun Microsystems' JavaSoft division president Alan Baratz said that Sun invented Java, Sun is the custodian of Java, and takes this role very seriously. Sun will continue driving Java's direction, based on industry and customers input, and will not deviate from this course.

Alan Baratz, president of Sun Microsystems' JavaSoft division:

Thank you Lisa, I'd also like to add my thanks to all of you for joining us here this morning. Well, it's been a pretty exciting week or two for you all and all of us here who follow Java. I think now is the right time for us to cut through all the rhetoric and just have a candid conversation about what's going on. Let me tell you how we see things.

First, of all Java has become the software industry's genetic code, because the technology delivers value that no other technology can, and because the industry plays a vital role in the development of the specifications implementation for that platform. It has become a very valuable technology to Sun to the industry, to developers and to customers.

Second, Sun owns and invests aggressively in the Java brand; we will use the brand to ensure "Java" always means Write Once Run Anywhere; Safe Network Delivery Smart Card to Supercomputer scalability. After all, this is what makes Java so valuable.

Third, as you all know, Sun invented Java, and because Java has become so important, and so valuable, we take our role as custodians of this technology very seriously. Sun will continue driving it's direction based on what we hear from the industry and developers. We will not deviate from the course.

It's as simple as that.

Java is providing a real benefit to developers and customers. This benefit provides a very unique threat to Microsoft. Let's just call it the way it is. Every single thing that Microsoft says and does is designed to preserve their monopoly. They have no other motivation. And they're a monopoly that's under siege.

Why? Because the future of software is object-oriented programming. Java makes object-oriented programming make sense. The future of software is heterogeneous networks. Java makes them connect. The future of software is public networks and Java makes them safe.

As you've all seen, Microsoft's reaction to Java has been pretty noisy. We think that their strategy is self-defeating and that it shows their true colors.

Let's look at what they have been up to lately. Microsoft is frantically attempting to pull Java applets off its web site. Microsoft, several reporters have told us, is apparently throwing developers out of its support programs if they use Java. And Microsoft and its confederates sent an open letter to the media demanding that Sun relinquish its role in driving Java.

Seems to us like Microsoft is panicking and in denial. They've got their heads in the sand.

Unlike the rest of the industry, which is working vigorously to adapt to the new model, Microsoft is going in the other direction. They are doing everything they can to push back a rising tide. They're trying to make their old strategy work.

Well, old habits die hard. Let us just say a few words: Blackbird, LAN-Manager, ActiveX. Every time Microsoft takes on the Net with a proprietary technology they fail. Why? Because the Net doesn't fall for it. It won't tolerate a proprietary technology that benefits one player. If they try again, they will fail again.

You know, six months ago, we sat and imagined what Microsoft would do when it woke up and recognized that the entire software industry was now behind Java. Someone suggested that they'd wake up and retrench, that they'd take Java off of their web site, that they'd tell developers not to build to Java APIs, that they'd attempt to reposition Windows as the answer. And we discussed this scenario and felt they'd never be so insane. Whereby insane, I mean that they keep making the same mistakes over and over thinking that they're going to get a different outcome. Once again trying to take on the Net and once again, they will lose.

Who knows where Microsoft will be six months from now. From what we can see, it looks like Brownian motion up in Redmond -- everyone's randomly colliding into the other.

The great thing is that Microsoft seems to be the only company who really doesn't understand what Java is all about. The developers sure do and our partners sure do.

Let me give you a few datapoints, both anecdotal and statistical:

At the recent Microsoft developer conference in Paris, about 1200 developers got an earful from Microsoft about Java.

As Microsoft increased the noise level, FUDding Java, the crowd booed and yelled "Go Java" The crowd then began leaving in droves. At the end of the hour there were 50 people in the room. And when the Q&A started, they had more questions on portability than on anything else!

There's a new grass roots organization called Java Lobby. I invite you all to check them out at They just sponsored a survey on and asked "Should Microsoft provide full support for standard Java, in addition to their proprietary extensions for IE and Windows?" Well, in the first day, 96% of voters said yes.

That seems like a pretty clear mandate for Microsoft to get in line.

It's pretty clear what developers want. In fact, if you check out the newsgroups these days, the postings are 9 to 1 in support of Sun and it's process for evolving Java in an open industry participative fashion.

Here's a pretty typical response from a developer, commenting on ZD-Net:

..."since [Sun] constructed Java, they are a hell of a lot better qualified then most. But they are not doing it alone. The JFCs? they came from Netscape. Why? Because they were a good idea, and worked cross-platform (which is why the AFC would never have had a chance). A lot of the JDBC specs? major RDBMS suppliers, like Oracle, Informix, Syabse, etc. A lot of the JavaBeans spec Borland helped develop. IBM is also a major contributor to Java. If the Wintel camp actually wanted open, cross platform products, then they would be helping to add specs to Java."

This is exactly right. There's major intellectual property not only from only Sun, but also from IBM, Netscape, Borland, Novell, Oracle and many others in the Java platform. That's what's made it work. This is how Sun has always worked.

The reason the industry has participated in this process is because it makes good business sense. The reason the Java APIs and specs are open and available is because it makes good business sense. Not just for Sun, or IBM, or Netscape but for 400,000+ developers, and for millions of users.

The industry believes in the process that Sun has created and is leading. Why? Because we have been very clear and up front. You don't build this level of trust any other way. Our partners willingly contribute enormous resources to the Java platform. The Java Porting and Tuning Center is the best and latest example of how truly collaborative the Java development process is.

OK, so now let's turn our attention to that publicity stunt, the letter from Microsoft.

In that letter Microsoft & Co. asked Sun to change the way we drive the Java platform forward. To be as clear as possible -- Sun is committed to driving the Java industry exactly the way we have been because that's what the industry wants. Our method works. We won't change it until we see a better way. No matter how many FUD missiles Microsoft may launch at us.

Let me be clear about something else: regardless of whether Sun's ISO application is accepted or rejected we will continue leading the industry in the evolution of the Java platform.

The ISO certification can be a means to validate our business model and provide an independent review board for our specifications. It can also be effective in some instances for governments and businesses who require de jure standards.

But what's the bottom line? Let me say it again.

First, Java has become the software industry's genetic code because the technology delivers value that no other technology can; and because the industry and developers play a vital role in the evolution of the platform.

Second, Sun owns and invests aggressively in the Java brand; we will use the brand to always ensure that "Java" means Write Once Run Anywhere; Safe Network Delivery; Smart Card to Supercomputer scalability

And third, Sun invented Java. We take our responsibility seriously and will not deviate from the course.

We invite you to get in touch with IBM and Netscape today to ask them how they feel about the way we work with them in this process.

So, having said all that, a lot of you are interested in the status of our ISO application. Let me turn the time over to Jim Mitchell who will take you through what the country comments have been and what our responses are. Jim will also give you a brief on the final steps in the application review process. Jim.