Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Open Web Authors: Liz McMillan, Lori MacVittie, Gilad Parann-Nissany, Carmen Gonzalez, Mark R. Hinkle

Related Topics: Open Web

Open Web: 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)

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.


@ThingsExpo Stories
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial Cloud.
The explosion of connected devices / sensors is creating an ever-expanding set of new and valuable data. In parallel the emerging capability of Big Data technologies to store, access, analyze, and react to this data is producing changes in business models under the umbrella of the Internet of Things (IoT). In particular within the Insurance industry, IoT appears positioned to enable deep changes by altering relationships between insurers, distributors, and the insured. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Sick, a Senior Manager and Big Data Architect within Ernst and Young's Financial Servi...
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
Sensor-enabled things are becoming more commonplace, precursors to a larger and more complex framework that most consider the ultimate promise of the IoT: things connecting, interacting, sharing, storing, and over time perhaps learning and predicting based on habits, behaviors, location, preferences, purchases and more. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tom Wesselman, Director of Communications Ecosystem Architecture at Plantronics, will examine the still nascent IoT as it is coalescing, including what it is today, what it might ultimately be, the role of wearable tech, and technology gaps stil...
The Workspace-as-a-Service (WaaS) market will grow to $6.4B by 2018. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Seth Bostock, CEO of IndependenceIT, will begin by walking the audience through the evolution of Workspace as-a-Service, where it is now vs. where it going. To look beyond the desktop we must understand exactly what WaaS is, who the users are, and where it is going in the future. IT departments, ISVs and service providers must look to workflow and automation capabilities to adapt to growing demand and the rapidly changing workspace model.
Since 2008 and for the first time in history, more than half of humans live in urban areas, urging cities to become “smart.” Today, cities can leverage the wide availability of smartphones combined with new technologies such as Beacons or NFC to connect their urban furniture and environment to create citizen-first services that improve transportation, way-finding and information delivery. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Laetitia Gazel-Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings, will focus on successful use cases.
One of the biggest impacts of the Internet of Things is and will continue to be on data; specifically data volume, management and usage. Companies are scrambling to adapt to this new and unpredictable data reality with legacy infrastructure that cannot handle the speed and volume of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and president of Infobright, will discuss how companies need to rethink their data infrastructure to participate in the IoT, including: Data storage: Understanding the kinds of data: structured, unstructured, big/small? Analytics: What kinds and how responsiv...
Building low-cost wearable devices can enhance the quality of our lives. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Sai Yamanoor, Embedded Software Engineer at Altschool, provided an example of putting together a small keychain within a $50 budget that educates the user about the air quality in their surroundings. He also provided examples such as building a wearable device that provides transit or recreational information. He then reviewed the resources available to build wearable devices at home including open source hardware, the raw materials required and the options available to power s...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal an...
DevOps tends to focus on the relationship between Dev and Ops, putting an emphasis on the ops and application infrastructure. But that’s changing with microservices architectures. In her session at DevOps Summit, Lori MacVittie, Evangelist for F5 Networks, will focus on how microservices are changing the underlying architectures needed to scale, secure and deliver applications based on highly distributed (micro) services and why that means an expansion into “the network” for DevOps.
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo – to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – is now accepting Hackathon proposals. Hackathon sponsorship benefits include general brand exposure and increasing engagement with the developer ecosystem. At Cloud Expo 2014 Silicon Valley, IBM held the Bluemix Developer Playground on November 5 and ElasticBox held the DevOps Hackathon on November 6. Both events took place on the expo floor. The Bluemix Developer Playground, for developers of all levels, highlighted the ease of use of...
We’re no longer looking to the future for the IoT wave. It’s no longer a distant dream but a reality that has arrived. It’s now time to make sure the industry is in alignment to meet the IoT growing pains – cooperate and collaborate as well as innovate. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine the key ingredients to IoT success and identify solutions to challenges the industry is facing. The deep industry expertise behind this presentation will provide attendees with a leading edge view of rapidly emerging IoT oppor...
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
For years, we’ve relied too heavily on individual network functions or simplistic cloud controllers. However, they are no longer enough for today’s modern cloud data center. Businesses need a comprehensive platform architecture in order to deliver a complete networking suite for IoT environment based on OpenStack. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dhiraj Sehgal from PLUMgrid will discuss what a holistic networking solution should really entail, and how to build a complete platform that is scalable, secure, agile and automated.
The industrial software market has treated data with the mentality of “collect everything now, worry about how to use it later.” We now find ourselves buried in data, with the pervasive connectivity of the (Industrial) Internet of Things only piling on more numbers. There’s too much data and not enough information. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Bob Gates, Global Marketing Director, GE’s Intelligent Platforms business, to discuss how realizing the power of IoT, software developers are now focused on understanding how industrial data can create intelligence for industrial operations. Imagine ...
Hadoop as a Service (as offered by handful of niche vendors now) is a cloud computing solution that makes medium and large-scale data processing accessible, easy, fast and inexpensive. In his session at Big Data Expo, Kumar Ramamurthy, Vice President and Chief Technologist, EIM & Big Data, at Virtusa, will discuss how this is achieved by eliminating the operational challenges of running Hadoop, so one can focus on business growth. The fragmented Hadoop distribution world and various PaaS solutions that provide a Hadoop flavor either make choices for customers very flexible in the name of opti...
In the consumer IoT, everything is new, and the IT world of bits and bytes holds sway. But industrial and commercial realms encompass operational technology (OT) that has been around for 25 or 50 years. This grittier, pre-IP, more hands-on world has much to gain from Industrial IoT (IIoT) applications and principles. But adding sensors and wireless connectivity won’t work in environments that demand unwavering reliability and performance. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ron Sege, CEO of Echelon, will discuss how as enterprise IT embraces other IoT-related technology trends, enterprises with i...