Welcome!

Release Management Authors: David H Deans, Liz McMillan, Jnan Dash, Lori MacVittie, Gilad Parann-Nissany

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
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks. We’re in the midst of a wave of excitement around AI such as hasn’t been seen for a few decades. But those previous periods of inflated expectations led to troughs of disappointment. Will this time be different? Most likely. Applications of AI such as predictive analytics are already decreasing costs and improving reliability of industrial machinery. Furthermore, the funding and research going into AI now comes from a wide range of com...
"When we talk about cloud without compromise what we're talking about is that when people think about 'I need the flexibility of the cloud' - it's the ability to create applications and run them in a cloud environment that's far more flexible,” explained Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The current age of digital transformation means that IT organizations must adapt their toolset to cover all digital experiences, beyond just the end users’. Today’s businesses can no longer focus solely on the digital interactions they manage with employees or customers; they must now contend with non-traditional factors. Whether it's the power of brand to make or break a company, the need to monitor across all locations 24/7, or the ability to proactively resolve issues, companies must adapt to...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st 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 and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a client-oriented software development company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex software systems for startups and enterprises. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business...
SYS-CON Events announced today that GrapeUp, the leading provider of rapid product development at the speed of business, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market acr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ayehu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara California. Ayehu provides IT Process Automation & Orchestration solutions for IT and Security professionals to identify and resolve critical incidents and enable rapid containment, eradication, and recovery from cyber security breaches. Ayehu provides customers greater control over IT infras...
In this presentation, Striim CTO and founder Steve Wilkes will discuss practical strategies for counteracting fraud and cyberattacks by leveraging real-time streaming analytics. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Steve Wilkes, Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Striim, will provide a detailed look into leveraging streaming data management to correlate events in real time, and identify potential breaches across IoT and non-IoT systems throughout the enterprise. Strategies for processing massive ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy named "Bronze Sponsor" of 21st International Cloud Expo which will take place October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud com...
In his session at Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, an entertainment executive/TV producer turned serial entrepreneur, presented a success story of an entrepreneur who has both suffered through and benefited from offshore development across multiple businesses: The smart choice, or how to select the right offshore development partner Warning signs, or how to minimize chances of making the wrong choice Collaboration, or how to establish the most effective work processes Budget control, or how to ma...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st Int\ernational Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their ...
We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
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 CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assista...
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists looked at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deliver...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Lachapelle, CEO of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), provided an overview of various initiatives to certify the security of connected devices and future trends in ensuring public trust of IoT. Eric Lachapelle is the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), an international certification body. His role is to help companies and individuals to achieve professional, accredited and worldwide re...
With the introduction of IoT and Smart Living in every aspect of our lives, one question has become relevant: What are the security implications? To answer this, first we have to look and explore the security models of the technologies that IoT is founded upon. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nevi Kaja, a Research Engineer at Ford Motor Company, discussed some of the security challenges of the IoT infrastructure and related how these aspects impact Smart Living. The material was delivered interac...
IoT solutions exploit operational data generated by Internet-connected smart “things” for the purpose of gaining operational insight and producing “better outcomes” (for example, create new business models, eliminate unscheduled maintenance, etc.). The explosive proliferation of IoT solutions will result in an exponential growth in the volume of IoT data, precipitating significant Information Governance issues: who owns the IoT data, what are the rights/duties of IoT solutions adopters towards t...