The software giant is in the process of removing all Java applets from its Web site for "performance" and "compatibility" reasons, the site's editor in chief said today.
The company will remove close to 600 Java applets in the next 30 to 60 days as part of an overhaul of the site, according to "microsoft.com" editor in chief Tim Sinclair.
The site will also limit the size of each page to 60K. Sinclair said the Java purge was his idea and did not come from company executives, although he confirmed that CEO Bill Gates had earlier insisted that a Java applet be removed from his personal page.
"Performance has been an issue on the site, and Java was slowing things down," Sinclair added. "HTML and scripting can do the same thing in a lot of cases."
In addition, Sinclair said that Java applets do not appear the same on all platforms and systems and therefore present a variable, something he'd rather not have. The site will continue to use ActiveX controls, Microsoft's Windows-only technology for delivering small applications and interface components to a browser.
The news prompted a sharp response from Java's creators, who have accused Microsoft of doing all it can to hinder the development of the Java platform.
"I'm absolutely convinced this is driven by other reasons," said George Paolini, director of corporate marketing for Sun's JavaSoft division. "If it were really for performance reasons, they should be pulling those NT boxes off the back end. For every Webmaster who may have performance issues with Java, I could name another Webmaster who could cite performance boosts from using Java."
Paolini said that Java applications are currently tuned to run about one-third as fast as programs written in C, a performance gap that JavaSoft has been working hard to close.
Microsoft is, in fact, replacing servers and adding foreign data centers to improve the performance of its site, which has been hit by heavy traffic and hackers this summer. A company spokesman said traffic has increased to about 120 million hits a day.
The company has made no secret of its hostility toward Java as a platform, saying Sun is pushing it as a replacement for Windows, a push that threatens Microsoft's bottom line.
Sinclair did not completely rule out the existence of Java on his site but said it would be considered on a "case-by-case basis where it makes good business sense."