IBM releases new JVM for Windows

Concerns among developers about how committed Microsoft Corp. is to Java have led IBM Corp. to release a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) for the Windows operating system platform.

IBM is giving away the JVM at The JVM is for Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows NT. Free downloads are available, said Tim Thatcher, IBM manager of Java marketing, based in Austin, Tex. This is the first JVM from IBM for Windows.

“There has been some concern over whether Microsoft will continue to develop Java or, given the legal situation, if they do continue to develop Java, whether it will be compliant with Sun,” he said.

Microsoft and rival Sun Microsystems Inc. have been locked in a legal battle because Sun contends that Microsoft violated terms of its licensing agreement related to the programming language. In a recent ruling related to the case, a district court judge said Microsoft is not forbidden from independently developing its own Java products, so long as the company does not use Sun’s code to do so.

That ruling and various other wrinkles in the ongoing dispute between Sun and Microsoft have led to increased concerns among developers about what is going to happen with Java technology and interoperability with Microsoft operating systems.

A Microsoft spokesman said the company had no comment regarding IBM’s reasoning for releasing the JVM for Windows, adding, “a lot of vendors have JVMs for Windows.”

Thatcher said that it’s important to IBM to support Java and also to enable Windows users to have a Sun-compliant JVM.

Although other vendors, as well as analysts and developers, have at times expressed frustration that Sun moves too slowly in releasing JVMs and in pushing along Java development, Thatcher said that IBM’s announcement is not linked to such issues.

As the “caretaker” of Java, Sun has a vested interest in making certain that Java does indeed operate across platforms, but it’s not necessarily Sun’s duty to rush JVMs to market, he indicated. Other vendors have to take on the responsibility of developing JVMs as well, Thatcher said.