Kaffe's MS-Extensions Will Hurt Java

Mike Cornall mcornall at sympatico.ca
Thu Jun 24 15:21:57 PDT 1999

Tim Wilkinson states:

> By providing a solution as Open Source we both unify
> the two waring Java parties and enable developers
> to choose their development tools, the extensions they want to use, and
> allow deployment on any platform supported by Kaffe. You can now write
> J++ code on Visual Studio and deploy on Redhat Linux.


> I want Java to be controlled by the Open Source movement - standards
> set by the people who actually use them.

This is a delightfully enticing argument. It's also utter nonsense.

The Open Source movement supports standards because they know it is the
glue that ties the Internet together. They know that sharing a common
standard is what allows the various different systems or programs to
communicate and share data. They also know that a standard doesn't work by
just letting everybody extend it at will, then watching to see whose
extensions are being used by the most people.

If we followed Tim's argument, then the Mozilla project should drop its
support for the W3C Standards, and return to the bad old days where
Netscape adds their own HTML extensions, and Microsoft adds theirs, and
whoever captures the most websites is the winner. Or, maybe GNU and Linux
should go beyond their support for POSIX, to add support for Microsoft C++
extensions - after all, lots of people use MS C++.

You may not like Sun's licensing. You may not like Sun's control over their
source code. But that is a separate issue from the Java Standard.

The Java Standard is thoroughly, and accurately documented, and is free for
anyone to use. This is in stark contrast to the Windows API, with all its
secrets and inconsistencies, which is where Java will head if you start
accepting arbitrary changes from Microsoft.

There is an established procedure for maintaining and updating the Java
Standard. Maybe that procedure is too Sun-centric for you, but in that
case, work on establishing a new procedure - don't just arbitrarily extend
the standard to suit one company (especially a company that is openly
opposed to the basic objectives of Java).

Maybe you feel the Java standard is missing something, or that it changes
too slowly, but that's not a problem - as you know, the Standard also
provides ways to extend the language (through new classes or JNI), while
still remaining consistent with the Standard. Microsoft, of course, ignored
the documented approach, in favour of methods that tend to corrupt the
language, and break WORA. Furthermore, MS's changes were completely

Do you know of any cross-platform standard that has survived an onslaught
by Microsoft? Did C++ become a cross-platform standard, as was originally
intended? Can we even define a common HTML standard anymore? When Microsoft
promised to support the Windows API on Unix, did they continue that
support, or was it just temporary, with the ultimate goal of paring it
back, and forcing naive developers to move to Windows (see Bristol's
lawsuit against Microsoft ). Microsoft opposes cross-platform standards,
because standards allow people to make choices that might not include

Where Java is concerned, Microsoft has stated that they intend to:

     "kill cross-platform Java by grow[ing] the polluted Java market."

Tim is going to help them.

Shame on you, Tim. I won't be using your product.

Mike Cornall
mcornall at sympatico.com

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