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Java flavors for different devices

All computers are not created equal, and Sun Microsystems is shaking up its Java technology to reflect that fact.

Sun Microsystems (SUNW) is refashioning its Java technology to reflect the fact that all computers are not created equal.

At its JavaOne developer conference next week, the company's JavaSoft division will announce three new "flavors" of Java called Personal, Embedded, and Card, according to industry sources.

JavaSoft will also announce a new framework for developing server applications called Java Platform for the Enterprise. By splitting the technology into distinct parts, the company hopes that developers can easily write Java applications that are better geared toward different types of devices, whether they be copy machines, cell phones, or personal computers.

JavaSoft has long touted Java as a "write once, run anywhere" technology that allows developers to create applications that run on any computing device, regardless of the underlying operating system or hardware.

In reality, however, most Java applications aren't appropriate for every platform. For example, a Java word processor designed for a PC will not now run on a personal digital assistant or work with smart cards.

Until now, developers haven't had separate programming tools that allow them to pinpoint their applications for specific devices. But next week, JavaSoft will announce new, smaller versions of the Java Development Kit (JDK) that contain only those technologies that are suited for particular devices, sources said.

Personal Java, for example, will contain a lightweight version of the Java Virtual Machine and class libraries intended for network computers, smart telephones, and TV set-top boxes. Card Java will be aimed at smart cards and Embedded Java is designed for everything from networked air conditioning units to printers. JavaSoft will continue to offer a standard JDK for developing desktop computer applications and applets.

But JavaSoft also hopes to take advantage of heavy-duty back-end systems, not just small devices and appliances.

Java Platform for the Enterprise is a framework that will include a collection of existing Java programming interfaces, including the Java Database Connector. It will also feature JavaBeans to facilitate connections between enterprise applications such as a transaction server and a client or Web server.