But actually giving up control is a slow process that in some ways resembles the anguish of parents sending their kids off to college.
In the case of Sun, the company will not deliver Java technology whole hog to a standards body, but rather will parse out little bits and pieces over time. The pieces are expected to included the Java Virtual Machine, the engine that drives applets; Java APIs, and the Java language itself, sources said. Sun wants to make sure each piece of Java is mature enough before the company cedes control, sources said.
Executives at Sun's JavaSoft division declined to comment on which organization they are negotiating with, but confirmed that the company is in discussion with several groups. The company could choose any number of different organizations to handle Java, including ECMA, The Open Group, and the International Standards Organization.
"We really believe in this business of being an open systems company," said Jim Mitchell, chief technology officer at JavaSoft.
Over the long term, a single Java standard under independent control is critical if the technology is to achieve its "write once, run anywhere" philosophy, Mitchell said.
"If other companies do an implementation [of Java], they must do a valid implementation," he said. "Putting Java out into standards body means there can be independent compliance tests."