Missing Something?

By excluding Java Virtual Machine in Windows XP, Microsoft puts users in the middle of its playground war.

Complete the sentence:

A browser without a Java Virtual Machine is like...

A browser without a Java VM.
A tuna sandwich without a pressed-tin ceiling.
The NBA without tall people.
A fine example of the "Freedom To Innovate."
The version of IE (6.0) shipping with Windows XP.

If you don't know the answer, Auntie suggests you take your brother-in-law up on that long-standing offer to join him in the fast-food franchise business.

Microsoft says it's not including a JVM because it's trying to keep the shipping size of the OS under control. Ha-ha-ha! Snort! Guffaw! Chortle! Microsoft includes everything from rollup mats for sushi to a distributor cap for a 1963 Rambler American in the dang OS these days.

Microsoft says users who need Java support can download Microsoft's JVM from—or, for that matter, Sun's JVM from Sun's Web site. Even setting aside the near certainty that IE 6.0 and Sun's JVM just won't get along as well as Microsoft's JVM, this is gonna be a real big pain to users who aren't Geeks Like Us, if for nothing else than the approximate 5MB size of the JVM. Gosh, what fun to have to squeeze that through dial-up just in order to have full browser functionality!

And that's where Microsoft's strained logic really falls on its, uh, face. The idea that the company is taking an action that's going to effectively degrade the Internet experience for millions of users belies every last bit of spin it can put out.

Look, this is going to be a bigger pain for home users than for IT staff. We can include a JVM in our base-system builds so that our users don't have to go through the downloading nonsense, and all it takes is an extra step in the build process. It's more the idea that we have to go through the extra step that kicks up this youngster's blood pressure.

Personally, I'm emotionally neutral when it comes to Java. I don't code in it, because I don't code in C-type languages. I don't love it, I don't hate it; but there's no way I can avoid it as a user, and I feel no particular urge to. Java is practically as ubiquitous in today's landscape as is Windows itself. If this is keeping Bill and Steve up at night, I say, "Drink a glass of warm milk, buy another Matisse and get over it already!"

This all goes back to Microsoft and Sun's "I Sue You, You Sue Me, We're as Cranky as Two Can Be" legal tangle over Java and the bad blood between the two companies because no court has, to date, ruled that either can declare themselves Ultimate Masters of the Universe.

Redmond's justifications on this one are thinner than Ally McBeal turned sideways. No matter where you stand on the overall issue of Microsoft's business practices, there's no other call to make than saying that the decision to not ship a Java Virtual Machine with XP/IE 6.0 is one based in strategy and spite. It's not in the best interest of Microsoft's customers and it adds to the process of building Windows systems for the business environment.


About the Author

Em C. Pea, MCP, is a technology consultant, writer and now budding nanotechnologist who you can expect to turn up somewhere writing about technology once again.


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