Among the Explorer 4.0 Java improvements, Microsoft plans to offer a complete rewrite of the set of basic Java code libraries that allow developers to add graphical widgets, such as push buttons, to Java applets, product manager Charles Fitzgerald, said today at Comdex. This code is built into Java-enabled Web browsers such as Explorer and Netscape Communications' Navigator.
Sun Microsystems created the original code library, but Netscape and now Microsoft are making separate attempts to reinforce up applet building blocks for developers with their own versions. According to Microsoft's Fitzgerald, Sun's code library suffers from performance and stability problems. "It's slow and it's buggy," he said.
Fitzgerald said Microsoft's code will be written entirely in Java and will ship with in a beta of Explorer 4.0 later this year. Explorer 4.0 is expected to ship in final form in the second half of 1997.
Microsoft said it will offer several other Java improvements in Explorer 4.0, including a richer set of multimedia, database, printing, and other class libraries; a feature for saving applets on a user's hard disk; and connections between applets and its high-end OLE (Object Linking and Embedding), Viper, and DCOM (Distributed Component Object Model) transaction tools.
The company will also offer a Java compiler that allows developers to create applications native to specific hardware platforms, such as x86, SPARC, or PowerPC. Fitzgerald would not specify a time frame for delivery of the compiler, but said it could end up in a future version of Microsoft's Visual J++ or another development tool.