Sun Signs New Java Licensees

New OEM partners to ship Java on desktop, laptop computers.

Sun Microsystems Inc. has doubled its distribution of Java on the desktop since it announced at its JavaOne show that two leading PC manufacturers had agreed to license the latest version of the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) to ship with their PCs and laptops.

Rich Green, vice president of Sun developer tools and Java software, told eWEEK that Sun has signed new Java licensees that will ship Java on their desktop and laptop computers, and that with the addition of the new companies, Sun will have distribution of Java on what amounts to 50 percent of the worldwide shipments of PCs.

Green said he could not divulge the names of the new original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners, but that the company would announce their names at Suns upcoming SunNetwork conference in mid-September in San Francisco.

At JavaOne in June, "We announced that HP and Dell licensed Java for distribution with all their PCs and laptops. So we have been working pretty hard to handle all the calls from other OEMs that have come to us since, essentially requesting similar terms. And were obviously interested in supporting them," Green said.

"Were at about 50 percent of the worlds market share in terms of worldwide OEM volume. So were making good progress," he said. "The list were working on is the top 20 worldwide OEMs. Virtually all the ones we have signed are in the top 20 or top 12 OEMs. And were pretty impressed by the interest we have received worldwide from OEMs who want to license and distribute the latest versions of Java. We expect that these numbers will continue to grow to a very significant percent of total world market share over the next six months or so."

Green said Suns announcement at JavaOne was only a first step. "The acceleration has been unabated in terms of garnering more ISVs and more volume for Java on the desktop," he said.

This progress puts Sun in an interesting position regarding its lawsuit against Microsoft Corp. over Java. Specifically, it raises issues with the "must-carry" Java provision Sun is seeking against Microsoft, which would force Microsoft to ship the latest version of the JRE with every copy of Windows the software giant ships.

A U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of Sun and granted a preliminary injunction that would force Microsoft to ship Java with Windows. Microsoft appealed the issue and won on appeal, with a federal appellate court remanding the issue back to U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz.

"Were at a very interesting spot right now," Green said. "Because as a result of the copyright ruling and as a result of Microsofts acts of halting distribution [of the JRE], a lot of OEMs and Web properties woke up and said: Oh my God, we need Java. We need it bad and we need it soon. And so the Java must-carry item is becoming, although still important, minimally, from that aspect of principle—and Scott [McNealy] and others at Sun still think theres a very strong issue of principle to be addressed here. But in terms of getting Java out to the world were seeing explosive growth of these other channels. And so the setback on the must-carry turned out to be not significant at all. Upholding the copyright was a clear statement of Microsofts actions and thus the need for everyone else on the planet to find alternate means to secure Java. And so I think were in a good space right now."

Green added that Sun "will likely pursue that [the must-carry issue] further, but by the time we do we may have 70, 80, 90 percent of the distributed market share of Java anyway. Which isnt to say it isnt important, and isnt to say we wont pursue it."

Meanwhile, Suns Get Java program, which the company initiated earlier this year, is aimed at getting Java on as many desktops as possible, similar to the old Netscape program where users could download Netscapes browser from a variety of Web sites. Sun has put together a program where consumers can download the JRE to their desktops and laptops.

"And we are licensing the Get Java download service—essentially the icon and the connection back to the Sun servers that download it—to any and all Web properties, game sites and game developers who will take the Sun click-through license, which is a very trivial thing," Green said

Sun already has hundreds of Get Java download sites already and the number is climbing, he said. "Weve so far downloaded about 20 million copies of the JRE, and we continue to see acceleration with this program," he said. "So that is the second phase of Java distribution thats clicking along rather nicely. I think the general view is that if you add up the OEMs weve announced plus those that we will shortly announce. And if you add up the volume from the Get Java program; and if you add in Apple and Red Hat and SuSE and others, the Java desktop program is looking extremely healthy. Were expecting that worldwide unit volume will be at a sizable majority of worldwide market share of Windows systems by the end of this year."

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