December 16, 1996 10 AM ET

JavaSoft envisions faster Java for smart phones
By Michael Moeller

  NEW YORK -- With Java Development Kit 1.1 just out in beta tests, JavaSoft has visions for a faster Java that extends the language into consumer markets.

The Mountain View, Calif., division of Sun Microsystems Inc. plans to release Java 2.0 in the second half of next year and create an industrywide specification for implementing Java in smart phones.

The new virtual machine that will be part of JDK 2.0 promises to be several times faster and include new technologies that remove the need for using JIT (just-in-time) compilers, said sources familiar with JavaSoft's plans.

JIT compilers, which have been released by Microsoft Corp., SunSoft Inc., Symantec Corp. and others, improve the performance of Java applets by converting them into executable machine code on a specific platform.

"The reason that we only called the latest round of upgrades JDK 1.1 was that with 2.0 we are planning to introduce a huge performance increase," said Alan Baratz, president of JavaSoft.

For one user, anything that increases performance is going to be a big step forward.

"Right now, the technology is not that fast, so for it to enter the enterprise ranks and have the ability to really be a core corporate technology, it is going to have to get faster," said a developer at a West Coast pharmaceutical company who requested anonymity.

As part of Java 2.0, Baratz said JavaSoft will begin taking into consideration the growing size of the JDK and will provide a framework that could enable applications and system vendors to implement pieces of Java on the client and put other pieces on a server.

In that implementation, when a Java applet is downloaded, it will dynamically call required modules stored on a server.

"Performance will be a key consideration in this," said Baratz.

On the smart card front, JavaSoft will attempt to line up partners to create an open specification for implementing Java on smart phones, Baratz said. The move will be similar to one made by a number of vendors for Oracle Corp.'s Network Computers.

In 1997, JavaSoft is planning to release new client-based products, Baratz added. Currently, the only client application offered by JavaSoft is the HotJava Views, a desktop productivity environment.

Last week, JavaSoft introduced a family of Java NC and Web servers and a tool kit for developing Java servers and server applications.

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