...and, I'm not talking about the language. I'm talking about the stock, Sun Microsystems is down 20% in the futures market @ 8:10 AM ET. -20% On the news of the $7 billion game of brinksmanship, it is important to call this deal what it is: a bailout. Sun has been shopping itself around for some time, and, in the absence of a buyer they are likely going to have to make even more drastic changes than were already planned.
I will admit to being a single-issue voter. I care about Sun inasmuch as I care about the health and viability of Java. Sun has mismanaged what should have been an easy transition for Java from the proprietary monstrosity it was in 2004 to an "open source" Java. We've ended up with a GPL-only approach to Java governed by an "open" JCP held hostage by Sun's refusal to grant a suitable TCK license for a non-GPL implementation. They are protecting whatever revenue streams they have by playing games with the TCK license in a way that is holding the platform back. If Sun Microsystems had made a different decision with respect to Harmony in 2004 and 2005 I'm convinced they'd be in a different position today. My hope is that IBM will complete the deal and get out of the way of a truly open approach to Java (i.e. we'll be able to see a certified Java implementation under a BSD-style license).
Instead, we see a language on hold. Sun doesn't have the resources (or the internal focus) to develop Java. Instead they've expended resources on JavaFX in a desperate attempt to get into the RIA business... The sheer unreality of the Sun Microsystems PR machine when it comes to products like JavaFX continues unabated. A product, which by all rational accounts, is a complete and utter shell game. Ask around, do you know anyone planning a large deployment of JavaFX? I don't. Schwartz didn't help his credibility when he blogged about 100 million downloads of JavaFX earlier this year. (Please show us the source for these numbers, I don't see this reflected in reality. I know many developers, none have downloaded JavaFX, none are planning to develop with it.)
I predict a rocky week for JAVA the stock, and an interesting week for Java the language. IBM will come back to the negotiating table after JAVA drops further, and this will be a stressful week for the thousands of capable and dedicated engineers employed by Sun Microsystems.