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HP supports Sun Java upgrades

The systems giant signs on to support Sun's next release of the Java Development Kit and its new high-performance Java HotSpot Virtual Machine.

Hewlett-Packard may be diverging from the Java standards path in some respects, but the systems giant has signed on to support Sun Microsystems' next release of the essential elements of the language that allows Java programs to run for its own Unix operating system software variant.

The company today pledged to support the next release of the Java Development Kit--version 1.2--and a new high-performance Java HotSpot Virtual Machine, a long-delayed upgrade, within its HP-UX operating system, a competitor to Sun's own Solaris software.

HP said it would deliver software based on the HotSpot JVM early next year and will, under terms of the deal, also deliver a compatible JVM within its operating system upgrade for forthcoming high-end IA-64 chips, also known as Merced, from Intel.

A JVM essentially serves as the "engine" that allows programs written in the Java programming language to run.

HP shocked the Java world this spring when it announced that it would develop its own Java Virtual Machine, or JVM, for use in consumer-oriented devices, citing the high license fees Sun was attaching to the release of its own PersonalJava Virtual Machine, targeted at the same market. At the time, HP executives maintained that the company would still support Java in its systems business.

Since that annoucement, Sun has been careful to defuse any notion that there is a split in the Java standards effort, citing ongoing discussions with HP to resolve their differences. The company has offered the HP example as a contrast to its ongoing litigation with Microsoft over the software giant's Java license.

Today's news comes as some in the industry wonder about constant delays in the delivery of key Java upgrades by Sun. The JDK 1.2 release has been rescheduled to next month and the HotSpot upgrade will not see the light of day as a production release until early next year. HotSpot is currently in an alpha test program with Sun licensees, according to the company.

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