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“Mankind Needs Your Help,” McNealy Tells the Java Faithful
“Mankind Needs Your Help,” McNealy Tells the Java Faithful

(March 27, 2002) Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems, and his colleagues at the Palo Alto headquarters of the Java powerhouse, are on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, the massive power of Microsoft is working day and night to promulgate the merits of its .NET Framework and of C# and the CLR. On the other hand, Sun's strategic positioning of the Java platform as something that involves not just Sun Micro but also a welter of "Java-friendly" vendors - such as IBM, HP, BEA, Insignia, Apple, Sony, Motorola and the rest - means that Java is constrained in many ways by speed (or lack of it) the Java Community Process.

Moving Java forward by coalition requires time and patience. Sun cannot simply "go for the jugular" in the way that the Microsoft marketing machine can.

Or can it? The .NET vs Java battle is being fought first and foremost, Sun's executives increasingly recognize, not so much in the marketplace (though there too) as in the mind. "Developer mindshare" is the name of the game just now...and Sun's CEO gave his keynote at yesterday's JavaOne with mindshare firmly in mind.

Casually dressed in his "developer's uniform" of bluejeans and open-necked shirt, McNealy appealed to developers to steer clear of the proprietary temptations of Microsoft and everything associated with it, urging them to view .NET not so much on its technical merits as from the point of view of freedom of choice and avoidance of vendor lock-in.

.NET, in McNealy's view, is no more than a way for MS to formulate and enforce its next monopoly - developers accordingly need to "be aware of the opportunity for very large monopolists to hijack open APIs," as he put it.

McNealy plainly recognizes that developers can make the difference. For all that the Redmond software giant can spent $5 billion on R&D for .NET and $200 million alone on marketing it, so Java benefits from the financial resources not just of Sun but also those of IBM, HP, BEA, Apple, Macromedia, IONA, Borland, Apache, Linux, WindRiver, Palm, Motorola and many more. Since each of these companies has a Java support effort that, taken in total, amounts to as much capability and promotion as Microsoft gives to C# and .NET, Sun isn't out-gunned after all. Once developers realise this, they may feel more inclined to keep the faith with Java.

In the meantime, McNealy urged developers to apply to every Web site the litmus test of whether it was accessible by both IE and, say, Netscape. The example he quoted as an ominous warning to us all was that of the Safeway.com site: Mrs McNealy had recently discovered, he told the audience, that you can only buy groceries with Internet Explorer! To Scott McNealy, when you experience proprietary problems even just buying your week's supply of Cheerios, things can't really get any worse. That's why "I need your help. Mankind needs your help," he asserted.

All in all, the keynote was a stirring appeal to the continued loyalty and dedication of the core group of Java developers attending JavaOne, developers who Sun knows don't want to see the Web services generation of computing dominated by Microsoft or anyone else, the way the PC generation was.

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Reader Feedback: Page 1 of 1

I hate 'em, I hate 'em, I hate 'em. Die! Die! Die! If I were a CEO like McNealy, I would make it my life's mission to bring them down. I'd spend every cent I had, spend every waking moment trying to figure out how to disspell the lies that the MS Marketing Juggernaut manages to spew out of its multi-headed carcass. Wait ... he -is- doing that. Viva McNealy!!!!!!!

What's up with JavaOS, Java Chip and so on? If Sun would have developed such technology they would be in better position now. We would be talking about how Java is eating the Microsoft piece of cake (mainly OS) and not inverse.

As a sever side Java developer I try to build Browser independent web sites. As such I might no feel concerned by the way Browser and OS market shares evolves and it would be a mistake.
If the kind of Browser lock-in the Safeway.com site shows would generalize it could lead to a shift from open standards based Web developments to proprietary ones. In such a proprietary world it would be harder for Java technology as well as open source projects to expand or even survive which is a clear Microsoft goal.
The power of such strategy is that those who are aware of the risks a dominant if not monopolistic evolving situation comprises (mostly people from the IT and Economy fields) are not the same ones who have the direct power to change it (home / end consumers).
In this regards assertion like "Mankind need your help" and other non technical ones might have their justifications if targeted at the right public.

Well based on Scotty's yapping, it seems Java is left to defend itself. And when you go into defensive mode, you have already lost.

Joe

Being a Java developer, I can say I don't mind reading what McNealy has to say. He is right about Microsoft. Microsoft may have lots of money to create great products but I don't like to see Microsoft not play ball with all the other vendors. Instead, Microsoft wants to get richer without including Java. Why? Maybe they fear Java. That is why they wanted to hijack Java.

Cmon, you guys can't ignore that Java is a real solution. C# is a Java look alike that only runs on Windows. With the way the economy is, many people want to run Linux, with CVS, and Netbeans for server applications.

Both companies offer great solutions and would benefit everyone if they found a way to work together where it benefits developers, OEMs and ultimately the end customer. An interesting note from last week, Microsoft asked Insignia Solutions to its Mobile Platform think tank-- something I regard as a signal that Microsoft plans to offer java as a component in its mobile platforms, alongside its own IP. This isn't really news, though, since Microsoft's main systems integrator for embedded systems, BSQUARE, has been working with Insignia for years and bought a large share of the company. I would expect this, more than anything, is what worries Sun-- that Microsoft is really a java adopter in its key market.

I'm no Scott fan, but he does have a point. MS isn't selling .NET on it's technical merits, they are instead making lots of commercials on primetime TV to get "mindshare".

MS has no real partners. For as much complaining as there is about the JCP, it really is made up of many different big companies, including IBM, and really does take its direction from the community and what is needed. The JCP and Java community have no funding for Java evangelization, so it can't compete with MS in the same way.

MS Windows dominated the desktop not on its technical merits, but because of MS marketing. The Java community is not selling itself as a whole and not on primetime TV. With all the selling MS is doing, .NET will catch on, and you will have to toss out your Palm PDA and Sun servers and get Windows based stuff, you will have less choice, and Bill Gates wallet will get thicker.

Sun really supported the small developer. Recently my company released an application for PDAs that help monitor network devices such as servers, switches, hubs, UPSs, etc. On of the device it monitored was Sun's Solaris servers. I could not get a Sun PR person to even acknowledge that this is a solution for one of their products. Their response was "Unless it is J2EE, we do not even want to hear about it..." In other words a solution is not a solution unless it is done using Java, more specifically J2EE. We sell both Java and non-Java products, yet we have a real hard time getting Su to even acknowledge our presence. "Go to our partner site and put your stuff there, they say!" After wrestling with two months of sheer indifference, we gave up. And what did MS do for us? They worked over backwards against a very short deadline (3 days), and participated in giving us a press release that extoll the virtues of the solution, and generally giving it all they could without incurring liability.
As to J2EE Vs. .Net? There is no question, both are good technologies, and while .Net is still under maturation, in 4 years, it will be moot, because Sun would have managed to screw all the small developers, who will be willingly helped by MS.
Al that will happen is that Sun will repeat its plea to manking and the DOJ!

Mr. McNealy, as the head of Sun, should instead see that j2EE does not fragment as a result of Web
Services. So far, IBM, Bea, Oracle, iPlanet et al have different implementations of Web Services if at all
available. We need strong leadership to ensure j2EE++ implements the required APIs (XML, SOAP, WSDL,UDDI,
etc) in a manner that permits us to define and run a Web Service, an application, stand-alone or as part
of an application, under any J2EE environment. From the development side, we need also strong direction to
ensure that the proliferation of IDEs for Java does not contribute the the subject fragmentation in the
run-time environment.

As the manager of an $11 million Java project, it concerns me to hear the head of Sun tell the world to not stress the technical differences but to look at the social/moral/ethical issues first. As competitive as he is he would exploit any advantage of Java over anything Microsoft. The fact that he is not doing so screams at me that he doesn't feel that he can win in the technical realm. Rather than making me feel better about the future, it forcing me to look at .Net as a real alternative; something that I wasn't doing before. I agree with the previous posters that the days of bashing Microsoft just because they are Microsoft are over. Fortunately, I think that some bright unknown out there will create a link between the world of J2EE and .Net leaving room for both.

I have heard more about .NET from Sun and the Java magazines than from Microsoft. If they would just concentrate on why Java is better than .NET (technically) and stop with the whole evil Microsoft campaign, they would stop sounding so scared. I thought the Microsoft wars were about free competition. Microsoft has every right to compete. This continual 'next monopoly' talk leaves me with an impression that Sun isn't confident that J2EE will win.

Why is it that we are comparing the Java - .NET debate to a good verses evil. I am not a fan of the business practices of Microsoft, but I feel Sun is responsible for Microsoft puting so much weight behind .NET. Does anyone think for a minuite Sun would not hesitate to put Microsoft out of business. What would you do in Microsoft's position? Would you just roll over and die or would you fight to preserve your business? Maybe this is a battle of good and the evil Sun Microsystems.


Your Feedback
Froderick Von Schlossenburg wrote: I hate 'em, I hate 'em, I hate 'em. Die! Die! Die! If I were a CEO like McNealy, I would make it my life's mission to bring them down. I'd spend every cent I had, spend every waking moment trying to figure out how to disspell the lies that the MS Marketing Juggernaut manages to spew out of its multi-headed carcass. Wait ... he -is- doing that. Viva McNealy!!!!!!!
felix quintana wrote: What's up with JavaOS, Java Chip and so on? If Sun would have developed such technology they would be in better position now. We would be talking about how Java is eating the Microsoft piece of cake (mainly OS) and not inverse.
Patrick wrote: As a sever side Java developer I try to build Browser independent web sites. As such I might no feel concerned by the way Browser and OS market shares evolves and it would be a mistake. If the kind of Browser lock-in the Safeway.com site shows would generalize it could lead to a shift from open standards based Web developments to proprietary ones. In such a proprietary world it would be harder for Java technology as well as open source projects to expand or even survive which is a clear Microsoft goal. The power of such strategy is that those who are aware of the risks a dominant if not monopolistic evolving situation comprises (mostly people from the IT and Economy fields) are not the same ones who have the direct power to change it (home / end consumers). In this regards assertion like "Mankind need your help" and other non technical ones might have their justifications if target...
Joe wrote: Well based on Scotty's yapping, it seems Java is left to defend itself. And when you go into defensive mode, you have already lost. Joe
Rodrigo wrote: Being a Java developer, I can say I don't mind reading what McNealy has to say. He is right about Microsoft. Microsoft may have lots of money to create great products but I don't like to see Microsoft not play ball with all the other vendors. Instead, Microsoft wants to get richer without including Java. Why? Maybe they fear Java. That is why they wanted to hijack Java. Cmon, you guys can't ignore that Java is a real solution. C# is a Java look alike that only runs on Windows. With the way the economy is, many people want to run Linux, with CVS, and Netbeans for server applications.
Fred wrote: Both companies offer great solutions and would benefit everyone if they found a way to work together where it benefits developers, OEMs and ultimately the end customer. An interesting note from last week, Microsoft asked Insignia Solutions to its Mobile Platform think tank-- something I regard as a signal that Microsoft plans to offer java as a component in its mobile platforms, alongside its own IP. This isn't really news, though, since Microsoft's main systems integrator for embedded systems, BSQUARE, has been working with Insignia for years and bought a large share of the company. I would expect this, more than anything, is what worries Sun-- that Microsoft is really a java adopter in its key market.
Pete D wrote: I'm no Scott fan, but he does have a point. MS isn't selling .NET on it's technical merits, they are instead making lots of commercials on primetime TV to get "mindshare". MS has no real partners. For as much complaining as there is about the JCP, it really is made up of many different big companies, including IBM, and really does take its direction from the community and what is needed. The JCP and Java community have no funding for Java evangelization, so it can't compete with MS in the same way. MS Windows dominated the desktop not on its technical merits, but because of MS marketing. The Java community is not selling itself as a whole and not on primetime TV. With all the selling MS is doing, .NET will catch on, and you will have to toss out your Palm PDA and Sun servers and get Windows based stuff, you will have less choice, and Bill Gates wallet will get thicker.
Shripathi Kamath wrote: Sun really supported the small developer. Recently my company released an application for PDAs that help monitor network devices such as servers, switches, hubs, UPSs, etc. On of the device it monitored was Sun's Solaris servers. I could not get a Sun PR person to even acknowledge that this is a solution for one of their products. Their response was "Unless it is J2EE, we do not even want to hear about it..." In other words a solution is not a solution unless it is done using Java, more specifically J2EE. We sell both Java and non-Java products, yet we have a real hard time getting Su to even acknowledge our presence. "Go to our partner site and put your stuff there, they say!" After wrestling with two months of sheer indifference, we gave up. And what did MS do for us? They worked over backwards against a very short deadline (3 days), and participated in giving us a press relea...
Jaime F. Zarama wrote: Mr. McNealy, as the head of Sun, should instead see that j2EE does not fragment as a result of Web Services. So far, IBM, Bea, Oracle, iPlanet et al have different implementations of Web Services if at all available. We need strong leadership to ensure j2EE++ implements the required APIs (XML, SOAP, WSDL,UDDI, etc) in a manner that permits us to define and run a Web Service, an application, stand-alone or as part of an application, under any J2EE environment. From the development side, we need also strong direction to ensure that the proliferation of IDEs for Java does not contribute the the subject fragmentation in the run-time environment.
Michael W. Brown wrote: As the manager of an $11 million Java project, it concerns me to hear the head of Sun tell the world to not stress the technical differences but to look at the social/moral/ethical issues first. As competitive as he is he would exploit any advantage of Java over anything Microsoft. The fact that he is not doing so screams at me that he doesn't feel that he can win in the technical realm. Rather than making me feel better about the future, it forcing me to look at .Net as a real alternative; something that I wasn't doing before. I agree with the previous posters that the days of bashing Microsoft just because they are Microsoft are over. Fortunately, I think that some bright unknown out there will create a link between the world of J2EE and .Net leaving room for both.
George Knaggs wrote: I have heard more about .NET from Sun and the Java magazines than from Microsoft. If they would just concentrate on why Java is better than .NET (technically) and stop with the whole evil Microsoft campaign, they would stop sounding so scared. I thought the Microsoft wars were about free competition. Microsoft has every right to compete. This continual 'next monopoly' talk leaves me with an impression that Sun isn't confident that J2EE will win.
Peter Piluk wrote: Why is it that we are comparing the Java - .NET debate to a good verses evil. I am not a fan of the business practices of Microsoft, but I feel Sun is responsible for Microsoft puting so much weight behind .NET. Does anyone think for a minuite Sun would not hesitate to put Microsoft out of business. What would you do in Microsoft's position? Would you just roll over and die or would you fight to preserve your business? Maybe this is a battle of good and the evil Sun Microsystems.
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