Just five days before an international standards body gives Sun Microsystems (SUNW) a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on the company's bid to be the steward of the evolution of Java, a last-minute poll on the subject is highlighting the battle between Sun and its fiercest rival, Microsoft.
Founded by a former Sun marketing researcher, start-up consultancy Netroscope is asking people to weigh in on Sun's bid, which, if approved, would make Sun the official submitter of the Java specification once Java becomes an official standard within the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The ISO's technical committee is currently fielding votes from its 27 member nations. The deadline to vote is this Friday, which is the same day Netroscope plans to announce its own results.
Unlike many other online polls, Netroscope's does not take steps to keep someone from casting multiple times.
"We wanted to make sure everybody replies," said Natalie Shaheen of Netroscope. "We decided to trust everyone who participates in this."
Given Netroscope's relative anonymity, those who make up its voting roster could largely be decided by who points people in Netroscope's direction. Microsoft, which adamantly opposes Sun's attempt to become the official submitter of Java technology to ISO, has links on its Java site and its Developer Network site to the Netroscope poll. Sun, meanwhile, has decided to ignore it.
"Some of our research people evaluated it, and we've decided among ourselves that it wasn't necessary to support it," said Lisa Poulson, a spokeswoman for Sun's JavaSoft division. Poulson declined to comment more specifically on the evaluation.
The founder of the Java Lobby said that the Netroscope poll has come to his attention, but his Webmaster has been too busy to add a link. The organization links to two other related polls, one by CNET and another by JavaWorld. (CNET publishes NEWS.COM.)
"Maybe we will [link to it]," said Java Lobby founder and chairman Rick Ross. "I don't know how much trust to put in these polls, but I do know what Java Lobby members want."
What they want, according to Ross, is Sun to be the steward of Java. Despite Ross's mistrust of polls, the Java Lobby ran its own poll among members who came out 92 percent in favor of Sun, Ross said. Approximately 1,100 of 8,700 members cast a vote, and the organization required a registration number to make sure no one cheated.
Netroscope's Shaheen acknowledged that her poll does nothing to keep out the cheaters, but "bigots" on both sides of the issue who cast numerous votes should cancel each other out, she said.
Shaheen's poll asks the question, "Should Sun turn Java over to an independent standards organization such as the International Standards Organization?"
The choices are either "Yes" or "No," with space for comments.
Ross of the Java Lobby would like to see further refinement: "These polls always ask, 'Should Sun turn Java over?' but they never ask 'When?' It doesn?t have to be now or never."
This is the second and final round of voting in the ISO process. Member countries are voting specifically on Sun's bid to become an official submitter of "publicly available specifications." If it wins approval, the company will then move to submit Java as a standard in a separate process.
So far, 11 countries, including Germany, France, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Austria have voted yes. Only the United States has cast a no vote. Switzerland abstained.