Tech Industry

JavaSoft soothes licensees

Responding to criticism from Java licensees, executives for the Sun unit say they will improve communication and curb competition.

Stung by criticism from licensees, executives from the JavaSoft division of Sun Microsystems (SUNW) said today they will improve communication with Java licensees and make a clearer distinction between Java platform efforts and specific JavaSoft software products that might compete with licensees.

Jonathan Schwartz, who became JavaSoft's director of marketing six weeks ago, also said JavaSoft will produce software products that complement licensees' efforts rather than compete with them.

"You will see a much clearer delineation between the Java platform and our products to address the concerns of our partners explicitly," Schwartz said, promising to be much more forthright about JavaSoft's plans for both products and the Java platform.

Echoing comments from rival Microsoft, Schwartz added: "There is a wall between [JavaSoft] people working with the industry in defining the Java platform and those that create software to run on the platform." Nonetheless, JavaSoft will continue to produce Java tools, such as Java Workshop, which competes with Java tools from other vendors and is marketed by Sun's separate SunSoft unit.

"JavaSoft will have other products, and we view their delivery to the marketplace simply as accelerating the deployment of enterprise applications," he added. "We will produce products that are complementary to products on the market, not predatory."

He also promised to improve communications with licensees about updates on directions for the Java platform, saying meetings with licensees at last month's JavaOne developers conference indicate great interest in timely information. "We are going to be very careful and make sure we avail them of platform and product plans."

Schwartz, who replaced David Spenhoff, joined JavaSoft in June 1996 when his firm, Lighthouse Design, was acquired by Sun for its object-oriented development tools. His position focuses on JavaSoft's product strategy.

JavaSoft denied reports of an impending reorganization of the unit, blaming rumors from inside the company. Sun has been widely reported to be unhappy about JavaSoft's failure to turn a profit.