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Sun plans to get Java on PCs

The server maker expects major PC makers soon will begin bundling Sun's software for running Java programs on their computers.

SAN FRANCISCO--Sun Microsystems expects major PC makers soon will begin bundling Sun's software for running Java programs on their computers, Sun executives said Friday.

If successful, the move would bypass some of the legal wrangling between Sun and its arch-rival Microsoft. Microsoft has been variously adding and removing Java from Windows throughout the course of an antitrust suit Sun brought against the software colossus.

"The PC OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) are all looking at this point at licensing Java," said Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's executive vice president for software, in a meeting with reporters Friday. "We hope to have some progress on that soon."

Sun executives didn't reveal details, but Schwartz said one likely partner will be a "media company who happens to be a PC supplier," a likely reference to Sony.

Java is a collection of software components that lets programs written in the Java programming language run on a variety of devices without having to be changed for each one. There are different categories of Java, the three broad ones being Java 2 Micro Edition for gadgets such as cell phones, Java 2 Standard Edition for desktop computers and Java 2 Enterprise Edition for servers.

Sun initially launched Java for use on desktop computers, a move that threatened to erode Microsoft's power by shifting programmers' attention away from Windows and toward Java. But Java programs, slow to load and run and lacking the refined interface of Windows programs, haven't caught on widely on desktop machines.

Sun has had more success with Java in servers and gadgets, areas where Microsoft isn't as strong. Schwartz said today 100 million phones with Java have shipped so far. Programmers inevitably will follow that popularity, Schwartz said.

This June's JavaOne conference for Java programmers likely will be funded by carriers that sell phone services, Schwartz said. "You shouldn't be surprised to see carriers as major sponsors of JavaOne this year," he said.