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Netscape to give Java applets a jolt

Netscape Communications will give Java applets a dose of this year with the help of Borland International.

Netscape Communications will give Java applets a dose of caffeine later this year with the help of development tools vendor Borland International.

Netscape announced today that it has licensed the Borland AppAccelerator, a program that will be embedded into the Navigator browser and is promised to accelerate the performance of applets by five to ten times, according to Netscape.

The AppAccelerator is an example of next-generation Java engines called just-in-time compilers. While Java applets today are interpreted by the Java Virtual Machine, just-in-time compilers translate the Java applet code on the fly into native machine language. Native machine language code runs much faster, but because the applets are compiled only as the user downloads them, Java will still preserve its machine independence, one of its main virtues as a programming language.

Just-in-time compilers are emerging from Sun Microsystems, Symantec, and Microsoft.

Netscape picked Borland's software over the others, including the company's close partner Sun, because it was available first, according to a Netscape spokeswoman. "We couldn't wait any longer for competitive reasons," the spokeswoman said.

Initially, the high-performance Java software will be available only on Windows 95 and NT editions of Navigator. Netscape has not set a release date or version number for the browser with AppAccelerator.