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Java SE and the Google Toolbar

Posted by kgh on October 4, 2005 at 12:04 PM PDT

Sun has announced an agreement with Google to distribute the
Google toolbar along with consumer Java SE downloads from
java.com.
Here's what is happening and why.

The Background

We've been working for several years to increase adoption of the
latest Java SE Runtime Environment (JRE) among home consumers on
the internet.
We've been pursuing two tactics. First, we've been working with
the major PC hardware vendors to include the JRE on new PCs.
That has been very successful - a majority of new PCs now ship
with the JRE preinstalled, which is great. Second, we created
the java.com site as a new consumer friendly site where
consumers could easily download the JRE, at zero cost. That has
also been wildly successful and we are getting a very high volume
of consumer downloads (well over ten million a month).

That's been great progress, but of course we
are eager to find even more ways of reinforcing Java technology
on the desktop.
At the same time, we want to be careful not to do anything that
would be onerous or unpleasant or otherwise discourage consumers from
using Java. And even more importantly, we want to be very sensitive to
the needs of Java developers and ISVs and we want to avoid
changes which might interfere with developers' ability
to use or distribute Java.

In searching for possible opportunities, Sun got connected with the
Google toolbar team, who were looking for ways to encourage adoption
of the Google toolbar. Our goals seemed very compatible. Like Sun,
Google was extremely concerned to avoid doing things that would mislead
or annoy or disrupt consumers, which was very reassuring.

It probably also helped that many of us are avid users of google.com
and that Google in turn does a lot of Java development and contributes
to various JCP expert groups. (Did you know that Google is a
JCP Executive Committee member?)

What We're Doing

Here's what we have announced and what we will be rolling out
over the next few months.

We will be adding some options to the Windows JRE installation from java.com.
These options will allow downloading and installation of the Google toolbar
(and possibly other Google tools in future) as part of the Windows JRE
installation. I want to emphasize that these will be options.
If someone doesn't want these tools they can easily opt out and still
download and install the JRE.

Our core principle here is to avoid forcing anything on anyone.
So we will take care to make it clear to end users what is going
on and we won't force the toolbar or other tools on people who
don't want them. (Yes, I know that probably sounds kind of obvious,
but we don't want any misunderstanding on that point!)

If someone wants to uninstall the Google tools
they will be able to do that, while leaving the JRE installed (and
vice versa). Again, this is about allowing reasonable end user
choices, with no hidden "gotchas".

These changes are primarily focused on the consumer JRE downloads
hosted from java.com (although they may also affect some related
"online" JRE installation bundles on java.sun.com). The way that
the "online" installers work is that a small initial installer is
downloaded and it then downloads additional material depending on
which options the end user selects. So, as with other optional
material, the Google tools will only be downloaded if the end user
actually selects them.

Note that we are not requiring developers or ISVs to redistribute
the Google toolbar with their applications.
In particular, the redistributable JRE bundles that developers
can redistribute with their apps won't include the toolbar.

Similarly, enterprise system administrators can continue to get
redistributable JRE bundles from java.sun.com for use in deployments
within enterprises, without the toolbar.

We are also looking into the possibility that in the future
we might offer
Google toolbars during JRE auto-updates. If we do go down
that route we will again be very careful to make sure that
people can opt out and that there are no surprises or gotchas.

Conclusion

Hopefully this will be a good experience for everyone. Consumers
will get an option to install useful search tools and Sun will
get some extra help around Java development and deployment,
especially as we head towards the new Java SE 6
"Mustang" release.

Finally, I'd like to offer Big Congratulations to Thorsten Laux,
the Java SE Desktop Engineering Director for figuring all this out
and for driving and closing the agreement. Thorsten is a key
champion of desktop Java and he has been relentless in
looking for opportunities to boost Java desktop adoption.

  - Graham

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