Sun: Java ubiquity an advantage in RIA battle

Sun Microsystems is counting on the ubiquitous nature of Java to help its JavaFX technology compete in the rich Internet application (RIA) space against rivals Adobe Systems and Microsoft.

A browser plug-in for JavaFX will be featured in the Java SE (Standard Edition) 6 Update 10 release due this fall. Both Adobe, with its Flash platform, and Microsoft, with Silverlight, are offering plug-in platforms for rich Internet applications. But Sun plans to provide the industry-leading rich client with JavaFX, said Param Singh, Sun senior director of Java marketing. The Java runtime helps make this possible, he stressed during an interview at the JavaOne conference on Thursday afternoon.

"The Java runtime is on over 900 million desktops today," Singh said. Every month, there are 40 million downloads of updates to the Java runtime, he said. Additionally, there are more than 2.2 mobile phones with Java on them, not to mention Java's presence in 100 percent of Blu-ray devices, said Singh.

"The notion is, we will take JavaFX where the Java runtime is available," Singh said.

Sun's JavaFX plug-in will enable deployment of applications that can work either in or outside of the browser, Singh said. This ability to run applications inside or outside of a browser is similar to what Adobe is offering with its AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) software.

"In our product design, we have looked at all competing environments. But our focus remains to provide the best RIA," said Singh.

JavaFX, which was first revealed a year ago, features a client runtime for building rich Internet applications as well as the JavaFX Script scripting language. Runtimes for platforms such as the desktop, mobile device, and even televisions are planned.

Monetization of JavaFX will come via licensing and advertising opportunities, Singh said.

In other discussions at JavaOne, Sun officials detailed potential changes to the Java Community Process (JCP) for amending the Java platform, as well as plans to enhance the Sun SOA Platform.

Sun's dominant role in the JCP would be lessened a bit under a proposal put forth by the new chair of the program, Patrick Curran. The plan calls for no longer guaranteeing Sun a seat on two high-level executive committees, one of which oversees the Java Platform, Micro Edition and another that governs the Java Platform, Standard and Enterprise Editions of Java. There are 16 members on each committee, but Sun is the only one with rights to a guaranteed seat on these two boards, said Curran.

"I think that [situation] probably will change," he said. Discussions are being held on this issue now, but changes could take time.

Asked if Sun President and CEO Jonathan Schwartz is concerned about Sun possibly losing the right to guaranteed seats, Curran said Schwartz has other things on his mind.

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