IBM, Sun drop plans for JavaOS for Business

IBM Corp. officials confirmed last month they have discontinued joint development efforts with Sun Microsystems Inc. to bring to market the JavaOS for Business, a thin-client operating system that was expected to be bundled with systems from both companies.

The decision was made, in part, because of the significant performance improvements IBM has made to the Java virtual machine (JVM), particularly on the Windows platform, company officials said.

In lieu of this development, IBM officials added that they plan to more aggressively pursue a strategy of placing a version of the JVM on a number of existing operating systems such as Windows Terminal, Linux, as well as their own proprietary operating systems such as the OS/400.

“When we first developed JavaOS for Business, performance was the No. 1 question when it came to Java — the JVMs were not up to par. But since then we have seen a vast increase in performance on JVMs,” a spokesperson said.

Earlier this year IBM announced it had developed what company officials believed was the fastest JVM on Windows.

Last year, Tom Jarosh, general manager of IBM’s AS/400 Division, told IDG News Service his group was considering coming to market with an OEM version of the AS/400 that would serve as a dedicated Java server. That system was to feature a 64-bit version of the JVM, a cut down version of 64-bit OS/400 operating system, and be available with several Java-based vertical applications.

The company abandoned that idea earlier this year because it could not deliver a cut down version of OS/400 without taking out critical functions. Just recently however, the company is revisiting that initiative, with some sources more hopeful that the company can deliver such a version. That effort should also get a boost with this latest decision to abandon JavaOS for Business.

Another reason for abandoning the JavaOS for Business project was the lack of an industry standard browser to use with the would-be operating system. Many users would prefer to have just the JVM, which can slap onto Netscape’s Navigator or Microsoft’s Explorer, IBM officials said.

IBM has licensed the OS to multiple OEMs and company officials said they would offer to support those OEMs and any customers they sell it to.

“There might still be uses for it (JavaOS for Business) out there for certain tasks, and where it is we plan on supporting those OEMs and users,” a company spokesperson said.

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