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License question

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matsh
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Joined: 2004-01-22

Hi!

I have been pondering over this for quite some time. Talked briefly with Simon Phipps at JavaOne about it, but there was never time enough to get into any detail.

So, here is my nightmare scenario. Tell me where my logic fails.

1. Sun open sources Java
2. Puts it on an open CVS/SVN server
3. Microsoft downloads it
4. Microsoft puts a new name onto the whole thing
5. Microsoft ships it with Windows Update, so that virtually everyone gets it
6. When it is installed on a Windows box it puts itself first on the path, so it takes over all calls to "java".
7. For each consecutive update to its released software, Microsoft tweaks it so it only runs on Windows

There are a few things of importance here:

a) Microsoft never calls it "Java", so it would never have to pass a compatibility test
b) Microsoft is faithful to the license put forth by Sun, i.e. they keep its source open to the public

Where is my logic wrong?

Mats

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dgilbert
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Joined: 2004-05-06

> The market has matured to
> the point where we think an incompatible derivative
> of Java technology just wouldn't gain market traction
> - even under a scenario similar to the one you paint.

What if it wasn't "incompatible"? Imagine the Eclipse Platform shipping with a runtime derived from Sun's own code (so it runs Java 1.5 / 1.6 apps just as well as the "official" JRE), but with some compelling new features added in. The additional features would mean they wouldn't be able to call it Java, but who will care whether it is called "The Java Platform" or "The Eclipse Platform"? I could see this gaining "market traction", given the distribution channel Eclipse has at its disposal.

> The community has a huge role to play in ensuring
> compatibility: don't settle for less!

Hmmm, I hope Sun has in mind some better mechanism to ensure compatibility than just relying on the community to do the right thing. Swing / SWT anyone?

jwenting
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Joined: 2003-12-02

replace Microsoft with IBM and you may have something right there.
IBM has been trying to take control over Java and commercialise it (iow, make you pay for the runtime and compiler) for a decade, or failing that to marginalise the platform.

But the real nightmare scenario is a bunch of /. kiddos getting their hands on it, deliberately breaking the source and binary level compatibility, and releasing it under the Java name, with the Sun trademarks intact, on a bunch of high traffic websites.

quartz
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Joined: 2005-07-05

Microsoft couldn't use the word Java without getting in a copyright fight. This includes the fact they couldn't name their program to java.exe.

http://java.sun.com/developer/copyright.html

Message was edited by: quartz

matsh
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Joined: 2004-01-22

[i]Microsoft couldn't use the word Java without getting in a copyright fight. This includes the fact they couldn't name their program to java.exe[/i]

OK, so what if they tweaked their OS so that whenever someone makes a call to java.exe, then it is routed to a program called kbwb.exe? I have no doubt that can be done.

rsands
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Joined: 2005-05-16

Hi Mats,

Thanks for your question! We're pretty well convinced that your nightmare will remain firmly in dream land and not become a reality. The market has matured to the point where we think an incompatible derivative of Java technology just wouldn't gain market traction - even under a scenario similar to the one you paint. And Microsoft has moved on - their .NET platform competes with the Java platform and that is where they appear to be investing their efforts.

The community has a huge role to play in ensuring compatibility: don't settle for less!

Regards,

-- rms

matsh
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Joined: 2004-01-22

[i]And Microsoft has moved on - their .NET platform competes with the Java platform and that is where they appear to be investing their efforts.[/i]

Microsoft isn't much interested in the Java language. They have their own stuff, as you say. What they're after is the Java *developers*. If they can tweak Java so that WORA doesn't work too well anymore, then they have basically turned all Java developers to Windows programmers, which is what they want, since Windows must be the platform we'll all spend most time tweaking our applications for.

[i]The community has a huge role to play in ensuring compatibility[/i]

The community can't influence what comes down the line in a Windows Update.

tmarble
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Joined: 2003-08-22

Mats:

You touch more on branding than licensing.

The "right to fork" is an essential ingredient to open source.

That being said we doubt the community will tolerate
imcompatible forks (see Simon's post on this [1]).

Remember, IANAL and can't speak to the other
implications of this scenario.

Regards,

--Tom

[1] http://blogs.sun.com/roller/page/webmink?entry=forks_and_knives

matsh
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Joined: 2004-01-22

[i]That being said we doubt the community will tolerate imcompatible forks (see Simon's post on this [1]).[/i]

I'm not sure we have much choice if it comes stoved down our throats with a mandatory Windows Update. Also, 95% of all users don't really know much about Java, or how it works.

Mats