Java faces tough climb to catch up to .Net

By the time Java 8 comes out, it'll be another two to five years behind .Net -- and Microsoft's coordinated front

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It isn't clear to me what real advantage JavaFX or client-side Java strategically gives Oracle. It seems like a technology that would have been designed to compete with VB6, Flash, or some 4GL thing. In a modern, BYOD, multiplatform environment where every up-and-coming exec thinks he's cool 'cause he takes notes on his iPad with his finger, this stuff doesn't mesh. Why do we need the client side holding back the server side? It seems like we could have fewer security delays and reap the PR benefit of not enduring months of "Java zero-day security problem" and "how to disable Java on your computer" headlines.

However, that breaks off a de facto deprecated but over-invested technology related to a bygone vertical technology platform play that should frankly be taken out to the barn and shot in the head. It doesn't solve the biggie. Maybe Oracle could even add it to its other misadventure, Java ME, and call it Ordroid. If Oracle bought BlackBerry and moved it to that new division, it would have "the platform of the future" and an "iPhone killer" for a quarter or two before investors called their bluff.

Quite simply, Java the language is no longer as important to Java the platform as it once was. The second most obvious seam that should be cut is the one spliced by Microsoft in the beginning, even if it has in practice coordinated releases after 2007. Cut the Java language from the Java platform, and release it on its own schedule. This would be easier for Oracle -- the development tool it produces isn't a major part of its Java-related business and isn't used by a large percentage of Java developers. Microsoft has to coordinate Visual Studio version X with the next release of .Net and C# for marketing reasons. Oracle really doesn't.

Java the platform has multiple languages ranging from JavaScript to JRuby to Scala to the more esoteric. Moreover, supporting these various technologies in a performant and scalable manner is important to the cloud. If the cloud is the future, Java the platform and Oracle want to be there first. At the moment, Java and Oracle are there by default. Anyone else -- well, the most obvious way to support Ruby, Scala, and possibly even Node.js is the Java platform. However, the Java platform currently seems to be more of an anchor than an engine of their innovation.

I trust Charles Nutter (JRuby/Red Hat) and Martin Odersky (Scala/Typesafe) to decide what goes into the Java platform more than I trust Mark Reinhold (Java SE spec lead/Oracle). I mean no disrespect to Mr. Reinhold, and there's some evidence that a lot of collaboration is happening, but waiting on the Java language or some pet project at Oracle to need it holds back progress.

It's been a rocky year for Oracle's leadership of Java. A lot of Sun's decisions have come back to haunt us. My take (if you haven't figured it out already) is to spin out client-side Java, separate the release cycles of the JVM versus the language, and focus on Java as a platform rather than everything at once.

This article, "Java faces tough climb to catch up to .Net," was originally published at Keep up on the latest developments in application development and Java, and read more of Andrew Oliver's Strategic Developer blog at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.


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