Close a Window, Open a Door
Arguably, the single most damaging thing to happen to Java in the last three years was Microsoft's post-litigation decision to cease distribution of the Java runtime on Windows beginning in January 2004. Sun realizes it can no longer rely on Windows as a distribution channel to end-users for its Java technology; it needs to get that technology on desktops and devices directlyand fast. To that end the company announced Wednesday an agreement with Dell and Hewlett-Packard
to ship Java on personal computers from those manufacturers, bypassing Microsoft's involvement.
|The hubris of the Sun legal department is always good for a laugh.|
While hardly more than a moment's nuisance to any well-heeled and well-connected computer user, the need to download and install the Java runtime for a novice user is far from guaranteed. The problem of distributing the runtime to consumers once it no longer appears cozily and transparently under the robes of Windows, is potentially very damaging. A significant and sudden drop in the installed base for Java could have a chilling effect on future development.
And so it lightened our steps a little bit Tuesday to see just how well Sun understands this threat, even if it was a little uncomfortable to watch Schwartz on stage asking developers for a "favor" in aggressively distributing a graphical button to initiate the download of the client runtime. "Proliferate the Java logo; get the word out," he said. "Microsoft is trying to stand in the way" of Java development."
Microsoft will need to stand in line; Sun can't even get out of its own way. To get the button that Sun desperately wants people to distribute, you must agree to a senseless and ridiculously restrictive use agreement. The hubris of the Sun legal department is always good for a laugh.
The download button is only one of several actions that Sun intends to take over the next several months in an effort to assure that the transition of Java from embedded Windows component to user-initiated software download is as smooth as possible.
Schwartz announced that Sun would undertake a major marketing effort for Java, called "Java Powered." The extent of the Java Powered campaign remains to be seen, but there were two announcements Tuesday that clearly go hand-in-hand in promoting the Java name as a consumer software brand:
- A new Web site, www.java.com, and
- A redesign of the Java logo
"You are going to see us unleashalong with our partnersa very large amount of money and resource and energy to drive awareness of this logo across the planet," said Schwartz on the unveiling of the gently altered Java logo. "You are going to see it in places you've never seen it beforeon microprocessors on smart cards, on handsets, on billboards. We're really going to take this to the marketplace, not just with Sun, but with all the all the partners who have a vested interest in ensuring that this brand and what it stands for are successful," said Schwartz.
Java.com will be the destination that Sun will use to promote the Java name among consumers and to promote the download of the runtime. It is, by all appearances, a consumer Web site in the purest sense, complete with game downloads and a flashy, fashionable celebrity spokesperson in the personage of Christina Aguilera. And, following in the footsteps of Intel and the quartet of dulcet tones that announce "Intel Inside," Java even has an official sound byte now.
Although the new java.com Web site, the public face of Java technology for end-users, is a direct foray into the consumer market, Sun still needs the core Java constituencythe developerto make the type of inroads it seems to be planning. Developers must continue developing the Java applications that serve as the goods Sun sells on java.com, which essentially is an e-commerce site of aggregated third-party consumer applications that users can purchase and download to their desktops or mobile devices.