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Sun raves about $99 developer tool plan

Company hopes release of "Rave" will help it more than double the number of Java programmers.

Sun Microsystems has confirmed that it will begin selling its Java Studio Creator programming tool on Monday.

The software, which had been code-named Rave, is designed to catch Sun up to rival Microsoft's products such as Visual Studio and Visual Basic in ease of programming. Sun hopes Rave will lead more developers to use Sun's Java software. Java lets a single program run on many different types of computers, for example a Linux, Windows or Mac OS X personal computers.

"(Rave is) targeted at developers who do development as a part of the job, but not as the reason for getting their paycheck."
--Sun executive Joe Keller

As expected, Java Studio Creator will cost $99, said Joe Keller, vice president of marketing for Java Web services and developer tools at Sun, in a Thursday interview.

"It's targeted at developers who do development as a part of the job, but not as the reason for getting their paycheck," Keller said. One key task the software is good for is building simple programs that tap into information in databases or that is available with Web services, he added.

When Sun demonstrated Rave last year, Microsoft said it expected to be able to maintain its stronghold in the programming tools market.

Sun's new software uses Java Server Faces technology, which lets programmers more easily put a slick user interface onto Web pages created on the fly, Keller said.

At last year's JavaOne conference, Sun said there were 3 million Java developers, but with Rave, they hope to raise that number to 10 million. This year, there are now 4.2 million Java developers, Keller said.

"The Java community continues to grow," Keller said.

Microsoft has its own growth plans, though. It is relying on its C# programming language and the Common Language Runtime software that mimics some of Java's portability advantages. The C# and Common Language Runtime are at the foundation of its .Net technology, which the company says can liven up Internet standards.

Sun's new executive vice president of software, John Loiacono, however, said Java has major technology and market leads over Common Language Runtime and C#.

"I don't think it has anywhere near the breadth of depth that Java has," Loiacono said Thursday. "In some sense, it's very similar in what they're trying to accomplish. It just doesn?t have the roots or application base or the number of developers behind it yet."