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Sun looks outside for Java group chief

Sun Microsystems appoints an IBM researcher to lead the newly formed Real-Time Expert Group, an example of its more open approach to Java's future.

Sun Microsystems has appointed an IBM researcher to lead the newly formed Real-Time Expert Group, a collection of industry representatives who will shepherd standards for a faster version of Java.

The group is the first example of Sun's somewhat more open approach to increased outside involvement in the future of Java.

The group's job is to write a standard for real-time Java, a version able to respond immediately to high-priority tasks. The technology would be used in equipment such as industrial robots that have a stop button people can press in case of emergency.

A competing initiative, the Real-Time Java Working Group, hit a major stumbling block in January when a National Committee for Information Technology Standards group voted down an effort to develop the standard without Sun's blessing.

Conspicuously missing from the Sun-sponsored effort is Hewlett-Packard, one of the more prominent companies that has been disgruntled with Sun's approach.

In the new Sun-sponsored Real-Time Expert Group, IBM's Greg Bollella will lead a core team that will include representatives from Aonix, Nortel Networks, Microware, QNX, Rockwell Collins, Cyberonix, and Sun Microsystems. Other companies are participating in an "extended team," bringing the total to 19.

Sun has been firmly in charge of previous efforts to develop standards for Java, but the company has said it will relinquish some of that control as it pushes Java into more computing areas. Under its new system, Sun decides which standards should be pursued, chooses an outsider to lead the effort, and steps in only when a group is gridlocked.

Sun acknowledged that it doesn't always have the qualifications or manpower to lead Java into what is sometimes terra incognita for the Palo Alto, California, computing giant.