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Sun opens conference with JavaOS

Sun kicks off the JavaOne conference with the announcement of its JavaOS.

SAN FRANCISCO--Sun Microsystems is taking the next three days to persuade developers that its Java programming language is growing into a mature development environment, capable of providing the smarts for everything from cellular phones to network computers.

At its JavaOne developer conference here, Sun's JavaSoft division today announced a number of enhancements to the Java language, services, and product family before an audience of more than 5,000 developers.

The company officially christened its JavaOS, previously code-named Kona, and announced a list of more than 25 vendors who intend to license JavaOS for use in a range of devices, from pagers to Internet computers.

Although specifics on the devices each manufacturer plans to build are not yet available, the list of vendors planning to license JavaOS includes: Acer, Oracle, Mitsubishi Electric, Nokia, SunRiver Data Systems, Tatung, Toshiba, Xerox, Acer Peripherals, Alcatel Business Systems, Axil Computers, Eten Information Systems, Hua-Hsing Information, Hyundai Electronics, Taiwan's Institute for Information Industry, Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute, Lite-ON Technology, LG Electronics, Mitac, Nestor Technology, Omron, Proton, Sun Moon Star, Thomson-Sun Interactive Alliance, Thomson Multimedia, Umax, and Visionetics Technology. Only a half-dozen of the vendors have actually already signed licensing agreements, a JavaSoft spokeswoman said.

JavaOS will ship to these manufacturers in the third or fourth quarter, said the spokeswoman.

With most desktop, workstation, and server OS vendors already committed to licensing Java, Sun has set its sites on a new breed of intelligent network devices that can run applets but require a slimmed-down OS instead of a full-fledged Windows-like environment. The new JavaOS can run on embedded systems with as little as 512K ROM and 256K RAM. On network computers, it will require 3MB ROM and 4MB of RAM. The system--which will run only Java applets and not programs written in any other language-?is designed to be microprocessor independent.

JavaSoft, as expected, also announced a number of new APIs (application program interfaces) that will allow Java developers to more easily build advanced applets and applications that incorporate features such as audio, video, and digital certificates. The APIs include Media, Enterprise, Commerce, Security, Servlet, Management, and Embedded APIs.

The company also announced a plan to refocus its HotJava Web browser as a fully customizable Internet client for corporations. Officials said the new version of HotJava would not compete with traditional Web browsers such as Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Netscape Communications' Navigator because it will be geared toward companies that require highly specialized Internet clients, such as a kiosk-based interface for browsing retirement information.

"We are not trying to out-Netscape Netscape or out-Microsoft Microsoft," said Jon Kannegaard, vice president of software products at JavaSoft. "We were getting a lot of demand from people who wanted something much more than a browser."

Lastly, JavaSoft announced plans to help developers build, market, and distribute applets and applications through a Web storefront called Java Developer Services, officials said.

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