has taken an
important step toward improving the performance of Java applets, posting a
new beta version of its Navigator 3.0 browser with a Java just-in-time
Just-in-time (JIT) compilers are a kind of client software built into the
browser and designed to overcome the severe
performance limitations of the Java Virtual Machine, Sun Microsystems' original client software
for running Java applets. They work by compiling or translating Java code to
native machine code as it is downloaded from the Net. Native machine
code is written for a particular platform and is therefore easier for the computer to read and execute than Java code.
Initially, however, only Windows 95 and Windows NT users will be able to get the
improved Java performance in the new version of the browser, called Navigator
3.0 beta 5. Company officials did not return calls by press time to say when
Unix and Mac versions of Navigator 3.0 would feature the JIT compiler.
A number of vendors, including Microsoft, IBM, and Symantec, are developing JIT compilers
promising to improve performance by
as much as ten times. Asymetrix also recently posted to its
Web site a souped-up
Java engine, called SuperCede VM, although the software is not technically a JIT compiler.
Instead of writing its own, Netscape licensed its JIT compiler from Borland International, and the company
hopes that its version released for the first time in beta version today
will set the standard for the market.
Microsoft expects to post a new beta version of Internet Explorer 3.0 with the company's own JIT compiler next week.
"Navigator was the first volume platform that Java was delivered on," said
Kim Polese, part of the original Java team at Sun and now CEO of Marimba, a Java developer.
"The JIT compilers are delivering C++ comparable performance. I think this is extremely significant."
Netscape has added a number of other features to beta 5, including frame border control, multicolumn text, strike-out and underline text, and new directory buttons. A complete list of new features is available on the Netscape's
Web site, while the browser itself is available for download from the
company's FTP site.
Asymetrix pitches Java in
Add-on gives Java to
Developers descend on
Explorer 3.0 beta posted
Asymetrix makes Java 50
OS vendors give Java a big
Netscape to give Java
applets a jolt
Sun speeds up Java just in
Microsoft does Java whole hog