Welcome!

Weblogic Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

Related Topics: Release Management

Release Management : Article

Why Microsoft Loves Google's Android

Google's Android As Currently Defined Is a Fork of the Java ME Platform

You won't hear Microsoft say this out loud, but secretly they are celebrating Google's contribution of the Android mobile phone platform to the Open Handset Alliance. At least they ought to be. Android is perhaps the best thing to happen to Microsoft since they won the browser wars in the 1990s.

And given  Verizon's announcement yesterday that they will be opening up their network to any device and operating system that meets a "minimum technical standard" it seems that Android  may  have legs even if Google doesn't secure the 700 MHz spectrum.

Microsoft's biggest competitor in the software development industry has been, for the past 12 years, Sun Microsystems' Java Platform.  Starting in the mid to late 1990s Java began to gain mind share among developers in every area in which Microsoft has an interest. Today, with over 6 million developers (according to Sun) Java clearly dominates the software development industry.  Point in fact, Microsoft had to completely revamp their software development platform in 2000 to mimic the Java platform in order to complete; enter Microsoft .NET.  While Microsoft .NET has been extremely successful at winning back a portion of the developer community from the Java platform, Java has remained the darling of the enterprise and perhaps the most successful software development platform in the history of computing. Microsoft really doesn't like the Java platform very much. Java is Microsoft's  biggest competitor and is arguably the platform to beat.

The Java platform and its standardization process is not perfect. A series of missteps by Sun Microsystems and the Java Community Process (JCP) have contributed to the growing success of Microsoft .NET. The JCP which defines the Java standards has allowed the enterprise platform, Java EE, to become unbearably complex and has created an ecosystem for its mobile platform, Java ME, that is terribly fragmented despite its overwhelming penetration (8 out of 10 phones ship with Java). The foundational platform, Java SE, however has remained a strong competitor and has given up very little ground to Microsoft, but all that is about to change with the introduction of Google's Android mobile platform.

To put it bluntly, Android as it is currently defined is a fork of the Java ME platform. Android is similar to the Java ME, but it's a non-conformant implementation.  Android is not compliant with Java ME nor is it compliant with Java SE. In fact, it’s not really Java. Although it uses the Java programming language, the core APIs and the virtual machine are not consistent with the Java ME or SE platform - its a fork. This was first pointed out by Stefano Mazzocchi in his November 12th Blog entry entitled "Dalvik: how Google routed around Sun's IP-based licensing restrictions on Java ME". Stefano missed the fact that Android does not properly implement the CDC or CLDC Java ME APIs ( a minimum requirement for Java ME conformance) - but kudos to him for being the first to report on the fork. The fork has since been picked up in the blogsphere by others here, here and elsewhere.

The forking of Java is good news for Microsoft for a couple of reasons. First, from a marketing perspective the Java platform's greatest strength is standardization and multi-vendor (e.g. IBM, Oracle, SAP, etc.) support. In comparison, Microsoft .NET is a portrayed as a proprietary platform that locks-in organizations to the Microsoft platform. That's the marketing message which has been used by Java proponents for a decade and it has been extremely successful. But now, with the introduction of Android, the solidarity around the Java platform could crumble.  If Android, as it’s currently defined, is successful then Java will no longer be consistently implemented at a fundamental level.

Microsoft offers an excellent mobile platform of its own, Windows Mobile and Microsoft .NET Compact Framework. It's proprietary, that's true, but it’s consistently implemented and extremely powerful platform for developing Rich Mobile Applications (RMAs).  In comparison, Java ME is a standard that has a wealth of functionality and is supported by dozens of vendors, but its implemented inconsistently across mobile devices making it extremely difficult to develop applications that will "write once, run anywhere". If Android succeeds (time will tell) then Java on mobile devices will loose its hold on the market. Android may win, but Java ME will loose.  If I was on the Windows Mobile and .NET CF marketing department I would be popping the cork on a huge bottle of Champaign the day Android is released. It's the best thing that could have happened to Microsoft's mobile platform.

OK, so if the Java mobile platform will falter because of the introduction Android, how does that impact Java SE? After all, Java SE is used for desktop and server-side development. How is that threatened by a mobile platform? Good question. Here's why: Sun has been moving toward unifying the Java ME and Java SE platforms for a while now.  This was pointed out in an excellent analysis by Caroline Gabriel of Rethink Research. As part of the evidence for her argument Caroline references a quote from James Gosling the "father" in a CNET interview just last month. 

"We're trying to converge everything to the Java SE specification. Cell phones and TV set-top boxes are growing up," Gosling said at a Java media event here Wednesday. "That convergence is going to take years."

But don't take James Gosling's word for just take a look at JavaFX Mobile, which Sun Microsystems announced earlier this year. It's based on the full Java SE platform, not Java ME. In a nutshell Sun Microsystems isn't betting on Java ME for the long-hall, they are betting on Java SE.  After all, Java ME was developed for "constrained devices" with limited memory and processing power. However, as technology advances that label no longer applies to mobile phones in general. Smartphones are becoming powerful, if smaller, computers with complete operating systems, lots of processing power and plenty of memory. The era when mobile phones are simple appliances is coming to an end - mobile phones are becoming a complete computing platform.

The reason a phase out of Java ME and the extension of Java SE to mobile is so important to Sun Microsystems, is that it meets Sun’s original goal for Java. It establishes a single platform for all computing devices. It makes excellent sense and improves the argument that Java is a standard consistently implemented across computing platforms. Sadly, however, by the time that happens Android may have already Balkanized the mobile Java community into Java ME and Android camps.  The  “one platform to bind them all” party may be over before it gets started.

Assuming the demise of Java ME as a standard platform for mobile development is nearing and that Java SE will take its place, the question of a consistent platform across all computing devices becomes even more important.  How do you sell people on Java?  You tell them that it’s a standard used across mobile, desktop, and server applications.  You tell people that the skills your enterprise developers gain writing desktop and server-side applications will translate directly to the mobile platform. 

Unfortunately Android undoes that. It tells the industry that Java is not consistent across computing platforms and that using the Java language, but not the APIs or virtual machine is just fine as long as the end result is a workable solution.  That leads us to the assumption that if it works for the mobile industry than why not the desktop or the server-side? Why can't other vendors introduce platforms that use the Java programming language and some of the Java APIs, but is otherwise inconsistent with the Java platform? What's the harm of IBM or Oracle having their own version of Java as long as it works?  You'll find the answer to that question in historical records when when Sun Microsystems successfully stopped Microsoft from adding proprietary extensions to the Java platform in the 1990's. As pointed out by Maureen O'Gara there is some irony here. 

“The sweet irony is that this greatest threat to Java since Microsoft should come from Google CEO Eric Schmidt, the guy who originally led Java development at Sun and signed the contract with Microsoft, leading to the Java wars.”

Java's greatest strength today is uniformity and ubiquity. Take away uniformity and you end up with many different kinds of Java and so there is no real ubiquity. Take away ubiquity and there is very little incentive to choose the Java platform over other options like Microsoft .NET. In fact, Microsoft .NET starts looking a lot more attractive because it is consistently implemented; not Balkanized. If .NET is just as powerful as Java, why choose a solution such as Java that is inconsistently implemented across vendors?  The strongest marketing asset that Java has today, "write once, run anywhere" standardization, is effectively lost.

More Stories By Richard Monson-Haefel

Richard Monson-Haefel, an award-winning author and technical analyst, owns Richard Monson-Haefel Consulting. Formerly he was VP of Developer Relations at Curl Inc. and before that a Senior Analyst at The Burton Group. He was the lead architect of OpenEJB, an open source EJB container used in Apache Geronimo, a member of the JCP Executive Committee, member of JCP EJB expert groups, and an industry analyst for Burton Group researching enterprise computing, open source, and Rich Internet Application (RIA) development.

Comments (4) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
derk 05/28/08 12:09:35 AM EDT

"I would be popping the cork on a huge bottle of Champaign the day Android is released."

What if Android also has WinMobile and .Net compact beaten altogether? How would you celebrate? Google has enough influence that they can simply build a language out for Android and make it standard to develop everything. Their followers will move in and make it popular. I don't think Google need to bother on standard that much.

tmc 12/04/07 02:49:31 PM EST

I don't see this as "gloom and doom" for Java. ME has been the party that everyone was invited to but nobody attended.

No doubt Google has what it takes to define an architecture for the mobile space, and frankly, that's what Java on mobile platforms has needed.

I see this development a win for Java, Sun, and mobile platform developers - and a loss for Microsoft.

dr 11/30/07 10:28:46 AM EST

Android is described in the article as a non-confirming version of Java. Doesn't that mean its not Java? And, how does a non-Java Android illustrate that Java is no longer ubiquitous? JDJ seems to promote the demise of Java at every opportunity, and this is just one more example.

Miguel 11/29/07 07:52:12 AM EST

Your comment about Google's branch of Java undermining SE is a stretch. I've been building trading systems for more than a decade and working with Java since 1.2. My view is that Wall Street uses Java because it is a solid, productive platform that runs on a variety of data center class hardware. Microsoft does not compete at all in this space, and therefore .NET will fail to capture the server side.
Sun has made serious mistakes, but it seems unlikely that Google's intro of a Java derivative paves the way for Microsoft to become the singular universal platform. Only Sun could cause such a debacle or perhaps Bush and Cheney.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will discuss how from store operations...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ryobi Systems will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ryobi Systems Co., Ltd., as an information service company, specialized in business support for local governments and medical industry. We are challenging to achive the precision farming with AI. For more information, visit http:...
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, will discuss how by using...
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lead...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japanese Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ruby Development Inc. builds new services in short period of time and provides a continuous support of those services based on Ruby on Rails. For more information, please visit https://github.com/RubyDevInc.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CAST Software will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CAST was founded more than 25 years ago to make the invisible visible. Built around the idea that even the best analytics on the market still leave blind spots for technical teams looking to deliver better software and prevent outages, CAST provides the software intelligence that matter ...
As businesses evolve, they need technology that is simple to help them succeed today and flexible enough to help them build for tomorrow. Chrome is fit for the workplace of the future — providing a secure, consistent user experience across a range of devices that can be used anywhere. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will take a look at various options as to how ChromeOS can be leveraged to interact with people on the devices, and formats th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Yuasa System will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Yuasa System is introducing a multi-purpose endurance testing system for flexible displays, OLED devices, flexible substrates, flat cables, and films in smartphones, wearables, automobiles, and healthcare.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities – ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups. As a result, many firms employ new business models that place enormous impor...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Taica will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Taica manufacturers Alpha-GEL brand silicone components and materials, which maintain outstanding performance over a wide temperature range -40C to +200C. For more information, visit http://www.taica.co.jp/english/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale, a leading provider of systems and services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale has been involved in shaping the computing landscape. They've designed, developed and deployed some of the most important and successful systems and services in the history of the computing industry - internet, Ethernet, operating s...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale is the leading provider of Software-Defined Servers that bring flexibility to modern data centers by right-sizing servers on the fly to fit any data set or workload. TidalScale’s award-winning inverse hypervisor technology combines multiple commodity servers (including their ass...
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence to enterprise, government, and service provider customers around the world. They are the industry leader in DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, the category known as DDI. We empower thousands of organizations to control and secure their networks from the core-enabling them to increase efficiency and visibility, improve customer service, and meet compliance requirements.
As popularity of the smart home is growing and continues to go mainstream, technological factors play a greater role. The IoT protocol houses the interoperability battery consumption, security, and configuration of a smart home device, and it can be difficult for companies to choose the right kind for their product. For both DIY and professionally installed smart homes, developers need to consider each of these elements for their product to be successful in the market and current smart homes.