Tired of waiting for Sun Microsystems to develop standardised real-time extensions for its popular Java programming language, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and others have formally organised to do the job.
The extensions would allow Java to be used to operate real-time programs for flight navigation, elevator control or any other system that responds to immediate commands. Companies that offer software for those applications have formed the group, which they called the J Consortium, according to spokesmen for the group.
The consortium is a formal incorporation of a group of companies that first came together last November as the Java Real Time Working Group, spokesmen said. In January, the group tried unsuccessfully to have the National Committee for Information Technology Standards oversee development of real-time Java standards.
A Java standard for real-time technology would enable the companies to move ahead with product development, the spokesmen said.
"We all have ideas for developing products for the marketplace with Java technology, but we need to unify our ideas to create standards so that customers can get portability and interoperability," Kelvin Nilson, chief technology officer for NewMonics and technology chairman of the consortium, said.
On March 1, Sun announced its own project, called the Real-Time Extension Group. But the J Consortium companies say Sun wants too much control over what is supposed to be an open process.
"Their working group is not completely open to everyone," said Wendy Fong, chairman of the consortium and an HP manager. "They decide what projects get accepted."
A Sun spokesman denied that the company exerts too much control over its Java development group.
"We have an extremely fast, efficient system at work in the Java community," said David Harrah.
Representatives from IBM, Carnegie Mellon University and Lucent Technologies and other companies are joining the Real-Time Extension Group, Harrah said.
Microsoft and HP are the biggest names in the J Consortium. The others serve niche or specialty markets. In addition to NewMonics the others are: Aonix, Plum Hall, Perennial and Omron.