The Java Lobby, formed last month by software developer Rick Ross, has reached 1,640 members, recruited using the Net's Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and Usenet newsgroups.
"We are asking Bill Gates, as a group of developers--a group that Microsoft has said it always will listen to--to reaffirm [his] public commitment to support the Java core platform," said Ross. "We mean the whole thing, not just the programming language or the byte codes, but to support the totality of Java.
"We would like Microsoft to commit now to shipping the full Java foundation classes and the other advanced APIs that are announced and expected to be included in Java 1.2 standard when it's introduced," Ross added. "We would like Microsoft to commit in advance to shipping those in every copy of Windows and Internet Explorer for Windows."
The full text of the Java Lobby's "Open Letter to Bill Gates and Microsoft," dated September 22, is posted on Java Lobby's Web site.
Ross, a paying member of Microsoft's Developer Network for software developers, said he and his organization have no ties to either Sun Microsystems, whose JavaSoft is driving the Java initiative, or Microsoft. He said Java Lobby members include developers affiliated with Microsoft, Sun, IBM, Netscape, and other big companies.
"From my point of view, it is completely clear that Microsoft has made an about-face on Java, and that MS is no longer willing to support Java's promise of portability," he said.
"If you look at the public rhetoric, it would appear that Microsoft has indicated it is interested in fragmenting Java," said Ross, adding that developers had trusted Microsoft's original commitment to Java. "It looks like Microsoft has turned its back on what we perceived as a commitment to make Java viable."
In the statement on its Web site, the Java Lobby describes its role as "to represent the needs and concerns of the Java developer and user community to the companies and organizations [that] have influence in the evolution of Java."
"The Java Lobby wholeheartedly endorses the concept of 'write once, run anywhere' and wants to send that message clearly to tool vendors, operating systems vendors, hardware suppliers, and standards groups," the statement says.
"We don't have any interest in smearing Sun or Microsoft," said Ross. "We want a real portable Java."