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Commentary: Java's a thorn in Microsoft's side

The company's decision not to include Java support in the upcoming release of Windows XP is part of a plan to phase out Java.

    By David Smith, Gartner Analyst

    Microsoft's decision not to include Java support in the upcoming release of Windows XP is part of an overall plan to phase out Java and continue to undermine it in preparation for eventual and complete abandonment.

    The Java Virtual Machine (JVM) will not appear in Windows XP unless an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) includes it--Microsoft said Compaq Computer and Dell Computer will continue to ship JVM in their configured systems--or unless the user performs a 5MB download. Clearly, Microsoft is not making it easy for people who want Java support.

    In Gartner's view, Microsoft's decision will come as a big blow to Java applet usage, because it will eventually drive usage toward Microsoft's replacement for ActiveX (expected by mid-2002, 0.8 probability). The already small Java applet usage will likely continue to shrink, and Java applets on the public Internet will become a rarity. However, corporate application developers will likely continue to employ Java, but to do so they must ensure that they install and use a JVM.

    However, Gartner believes that there will be virtually no impact on Java server usage. Although Java started out as client technology through the applet mechanism, the vast majority of Java implementations today are server-based, and Microsoft's decision has little impact on server implementations.

    Java still remains a big thorn in Microsoft's side. Microsoft's announcement doesn't make it go away, but it does represent another step in undermining Java. Enterprises can't assume that Java will be installed in browsers. By using the Internet Explorer Administrator Kit, enterprises can ensure that the Virtual Machine is installed.

    See news story:
    Microsoft's Java decision a mixed bag
    It is worth noting that this non-Java support issue really affects only clean installations of Windows XP. Systems built by OEMs will likely include the JVM (according to Microsoft). In addition, systems upgraded from previous versions of Windows will continue to include Java support. Enterprises that build their own system images should treat Java as they do other plug-ins: One typical strategy is to build the plug-in into the image if there is any chance the users will need it.

    (For related commentary on what Microsoft's .NET will mean for Java, see registration required.)

    Entire contents, Copyright ? 2001 Gartner, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.