Sun Microsystems' JavaSoft
unit will ship Java Plug-in
automatically updates Web browsers so they run the latest version of a Java
Virtual Machine (JVM), on April 30.
Java Plug-in, formerly code-named Java
Activator, is an add-on for standard Web browsers that lets users run
applications or applets with the latest Java features. It will include full
support for JavaBeans and Java Foundation Classes 1.1, key elements for
That will help developers, particularly of corporate applications, because
they can utilize the newest Java technology and be assured that all users, even those
with an older browser, can run them. Users need only download the free Java
Plug-in for their operating system.
JavaSoft also said Apple Computer will
create a Macintosh version of Java Plug-in for Netscape Navigator browsers. Macs
running Microsoft Internet Explorer browser already can download the latest
JVM from Apple.
JavaSoft said it will release Java Plug-ins for browsers running Windows
95, Windows NT, and Solaris, both on Intel and Sun chips. Sun will help
other operating systems vendors to create plug-ins for browsers running on
their platforms. There also is a version for Linux.
The Windows 95 browser plug-in also gets around Microsoft's decision not to
include all the features of Java Developers Kit 1.1 in Internet Explorer
4.0. Microsoft's action has spurred lawsuits between the two companies.
Netscape also has indicated it won't update the JVM in its Navigator
browser but will rely on operating systems vendors to provide the latest JVM.
"Today JVMs that have been provided with the browsers have been
implementing a subset of JDK 1.1 features," said Frank Rimalovski,
JavaSoft's product manager for Java Plug-in. "They have also done their own
unique bells and whistles, which has made the process of creating an applet
that works across both browsers difficult."
Java Plug-in will be available free for download from JavaSoft's Web site. Software
developers also can bundle it for free with their applications.
Java Plug-in also lets developers create and test applications and applets
using a beta version of JDK 1.2 by allowing them to download a JVM to test
their new code.
Since Java Activator was announced
in December, the biggest request has been for a plug-in for Macintosh
users of Navigator, Rimalovski said.
"Today when you run Navigator on a Mac, it's a hybrid JDK, somewhere between
version 1.0 and 1.1," said Apple's Gary Little, Java product manager. "It's
important we get people to current standards."