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Baratz: Java for real

JavaSoft president Alan Baratz addresses a second-day crowd at the Internet World trade show with New Year's predictions and Java boosterism.

NEW YORK--A day after releasing a spate of new products, JavaSoft president Alan Baratz addressed a second-day crowd at the Internet World trade show with New Year's predictions and Java boosterism.

Reading his predictions in the form of tabloid headlines, Baratz shot barbs at friends and foes alike.

"'Larry Ellison abducted by aliens.' Why would they want him? 'Microsoft announces a complete solution to the Year 2000 problem. Delivery expected in 2004.' 'The U.S. Post Office has signed a deal with AOL to help speed up their mail delivery.' 'IBM merges with CBS, and the new company is called ICBM, which makes sense because the content is still deadly.'"

From then on, Baratz plugged Java and the latest JavaSoft products, including the Activator browser plug-in that will give Internet Explorer and Navigator users access to the most current version of Sun's Java virtual machine. (See related story)

Baratz tried to dispel the perception that Java isn't ready for real-world solutions by demonstrating several Java enterprise applications. He said Java is able to solve two major business problems: "defiant" end users who deploy a variety of applications on the desktop, and the difficulty of replacing legacy systems.

JavaSoft's WebTop model is meant to bring more administrative control to the desktop and fight "anarchy in the enterprise," while the Enterprise JavaBeans will allow companies to write their applications in Java and integrate them with existing networks and systems, Baratz said.

One audience member liked the idea of Activator as a way to circumvent what he saw as Microsoft's attempt to hinder development of a Java standard.

"This is a good thing regardless of how Microsoft wants to drag its feet," said James Blake, assistant director of computing services at the State Univeristy of New York at Binghamton. Blake said that if the technology actually works, it would be an impressive strategic move on Sun's part.

Calling Activator a ploy to make "good copy in the Java wars," Microsoft countered yesterday by issuing a warning: "Because Activator has not been designed into Internet Explorer or tested to work with it, users will be using it at their own risk."