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Sun's Java jigsaw

special report Sun Microsystems faces daunting odds in its new effort to solve a puzzle: how to make profits from Java that reflect the software's wide popularity.

2 min read
Java jigsaw

Download a PDF version of the entire Java jigsaw report.

Editors: Mike Ricciuti, Mike Yamamoto, Lara Wright,
Desiree Everts
Design: Melissa Parker
Production: Mike Markovich

By Stephen Shankland, Wylie Wong and Mike Ricciuti
Staff Writers, CNET News.com
March 28, 2002, 4:00 a.m. PT

By all accounts, Java has revolutionized the software business in the seven years since Sun Microsystems invented the programming language.

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One-on-one with Scott McNealy

Listen to the entire Scott McNealy interview

While Java has solved countless problems for programmers, however, it has presented Sun with a puzzle that continues to confound the company today: how to make profits from the software that reflect its wide popularity.

As Sun presides over this week's annual JavaOne conference--traditionally a showcase for cutting-edge technologies and a rallying point for Microsoft bashers--the company will be maneuvering against others within the Java camp to take market share that it sees as its rightful bounty. But its rivals, which have capitalized on Java more than Sun in many ways, will not give up this lucrative ground without a fight.

The goal: Sun looks for payoff to Java addiction
The company must overcome its long subordination of Java as a stepchild to its hardware, which has allowed rivals to profit more.

The problem: Industry bickering could stunt growth
Java supporters fear that the creation of products that differ from the Java standard may splinter the technology's developers.

The enemy: Rhetoric meets reality in Microsoft
Behind their long history of sniping, Sun's renewed Java campaign faces more competition from the software giant than ever before.

The future: Sun pins hopes on Web services
The emerging market could offer a chance to regain a leadership role in software, but others say Sun's efforts may be too late.