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Java Highlights from Borcon

Posted by sspielman on November 6, 2003 at 11:06 AM PST

I’ve been spending most of this week speaking on the J2EE 1.4 web foundation and the JSTL out in San Jose, CA at Borcon. Borland’s conference is always fun because you have the various technology camps - Java, .NET, Delphi, and C++ - all sitting together at lunch have perfectly normal conversations and not throwing things at each other. One of the more interesting things at the conference (ok, so I’m Java-biased) was Jonathan Schwatz’ keynote. It was a doozy with some cool stuff. This aside from the fact that right after he said, (and I quote), “we make Solaris predictable” his laptop went black and had to be hard booted. You have to love keynotes. It looks like Sun is finally tweaking its marketing and is pushing to become the shared service provider platform, where ‘everything of value is connected to the network’.

His laptop was running the beta version (and the results of Project Madhatter), of the new Sun
Java Desktop
. That’s right, Desktop. Let’s just say that you don’t need to be a lawyer to see the fangs from the Microsoft legal team already bared to file a lawsuit for something related to ‘look and feel’ infringement. But hey, I’m sure Sun has its own set of legal eagles, so they must have already had a good hard look at this. The Java Desktop looks just like the familiar world of Windows except for a number of key points; it’s all written in Java, and it provides an authenticated desktop. It also provides a well integrated environment for those who want a familiar experience with their MS applications. This was demonstrated by opening up a the quarterly results of Microsoft off the web and playing the animation in Powerpoint (in a StarOffice viewer), right off the Java Desktop. This authenticated desktop will be shipping in the next 30 days.

It seems Sun has also redone their entire license, pricing, and software packaging structure. If you are reading this, and you’re responsible for software purchases and licensing for your company, your life just got a whole lot simpler, so find out more details on this. The new pricing and licensing structure that will be seen throughout all products is really an attempt to make the Java Desktop a true market alternative. The customer target is only those customers who are cost and security conscience. So we should see a rather aggressive campaign here. I thought all of this was quite interesting because I haven’t been paying much attention to the Desktop efforts. I’m sure there will be some massive press releases about this, but the Java Desktop looks to be a cool alternative to having all of your desktops infected by the next Windows super virus.

But the real demo that had the Borcon crowd of 3,000+ ooohing and ahhing…was the demo of Project Looking Glass. This had even a greater wow factor than Microsoft’s demo the day before of the Longhorn beta with some of the cool new graphics and file system features coming from the Avalon subsystem …although when it will be coming is still anybody’s guess. Sun is going to give them a run for their money, which is great news. With a 3D screen display, translucent to opaque windows on mouse-overs, and this totally cool feature…click on an open window regardless of what is contained in the window (graphic, text, streaming media) and the window will flip around to allow for notes to be taken on it. This got a large round of applauses. But that wasn’t all; the windows can be rotated, flipped, angled and tilted on the screen for position however you like in order to keep your workspaces organized and keep your desktop uncluttered while still having visual access to information. While it will be hard to figure out who wants their windows upside down when playing streaming media, the gratuitous rotations were duly noted for their cool factor.

There are also other cool things like video-live icons and workspace organization that allow anything in the file systems to become a logical part of a workspace. I for one (and probably many in the keynote audience) will be on the lookout for the production release of these features. It would have been nice if some of this was ready last June to demo and wow the JavaOne crowd, but I can assure you that it will wow you when you see it.

There were also many new things in the mobile arena, but I’m going to save all that for another blog.

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