Java on the Desktop
Microsoft provided tools that developers have ended up being forced to use to build desktop software, he said.
"And, for lots of desktop developers [Windows] was the only market that actually mattered," Gosling said. "That is, I think, deeply tragic."
The above conceit is an appropriate one, as long as it remains consigned to Sun's public marketing. James, being a smart fellow, understands the distinction between a Java desktop application and a usable desktop application. But there's no admitting that on stage.
It amuses me to read articles citing Microsoft's destruction of Java. No doubt they have it in for Sun (and often support dubious technologies), but the early MS JVM was the singular reason I could deliver professional Java applications (1997-98) given Sun's original, adolescent runtime and libraries.
Since the appearance of .Net, I've been mourning the loss of Java. It's brilliant for server use, I quite like the language -- and the present broad, industrial-strength API set is an unprecedented joy in the history of code. But if it can't move beyond servers, it will fade to competition. And Sun has been responsible for its failure on both browser and desktop, via petty and (ultimately) self-destructive behavior. Further, Sun has assured the bifurcation of a unifying technology, and rejected technical advances, important enough to real projects, to excite (Mono, dotGNU) the open source crowd.
There is one possibility. IBM wrests away control of Java, open sources their JVM (let the porting begin!) and makes a real push for the efficiencies and rounded APIs required of desktop use. In the same way latest Mozilla might have a fighting chance by virtue of solid implementation of standards, huge platform diversity and malleable component use for other development.
It'll never happen.
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