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Sun pushes Java

Sun is inking deals to embed a "light" version of its Java technology in consumer devices including set-top boxes, Web phones, and pagers.

    Sun Microsystems (SUNW) continues to push Java into as many markets as it can.

    Today the Palo Alto, California, company announced a list of RTOS (real-time operating system) vendors that have been licensed to integrate and sell PersonalJava and EmbeddedJava, slimmed-down versions of the technology, with their software for consumer devices such as set-top boxes, Web phones, and pagers.

    Licensees include Lucent Technologies, Geoworks, and Wind River Systems. The companies will resell PersonalJava and EmbeddedJava binary code with their platforms to their customers, the device manufacturers.

    PersonalJava has been designed primarily for devices with sophisticated displays, while EmbeddedJava has been designed for devices that have a character-based display or no display at all, such as factory automation systems, fax machines, and network routers and switches.

    The two Java applications complement an RTOS and allow consumer devices to run Java programs and connect to any network.

    "By licensing these to run on consumer devices, we are expanding the market for ourselves and all of our partners," said Dave Spenhoff, director of product marketing for Sun's JavaSoft Division.

    The move represents a continuing effort by Sun and its competitors to take software applications into the consumer device market and beyond.

    The agreement comes one day after Microsoft group vice president Paul Maritz said in an interview with Reuters that automobiles, telephones, and televisions are the main target markets for expanded deployment of the software giant's Windows CE platform, launched about a year ago for handheld devices.

    Last month, leading telecommunications providers Alcatel, Nortel, and Samsung announced that they are incorporating PersonalJava into their new Web phone products.

    But some analysts voiced skepticism about Sun's Java-everywhere philosophy. Tom Starns, an analyst with Dataquest, agreed that these Java versions have a place in the world, but not everywhere. "I think a critical eye has to be given to what makes sense. There needs to be a PersonalJava version to fit into smaller devices. Is it going take over the world? It's hard for me to see [Java] in everything," he said.

    In related news, Sun also announced today plans to post the final PersonalJava specification on its Java Web site.