No Java in Windows XP....So What?

by Marc Hedlund

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In his Weblog today, Dan Gillmor notes the Wall St. Journal report that Java will not be shipped with Microsoft's Windows XP operating system. Dan remarks, "The shoes just keep dropping, don't they."

I agree that Microsoft seems to have found a way to have another negative article about Windows XP in the press week after week. It's astonishingly well-coordinated and timed. For now, as a consumer, I have decided to take my copies of Windows 2000 and Office 2000 and hole up in a bomb shelter (or a falling-shoe shelter) with them until the war is over.

Nonetheless, I strongly disagree that this is another falling shoe from Microsoft. To be blunt, if they don't ship their Java browser extension with every copy of Windows XP, so what? Why does that matter? Applets -- the browser-based Java technologies that are affected by this move -- have never taken off, and where they have found niches of utility, they are almost universally used with the more modern Java Plug-in. The plug-in incorporates all of Java's significant advances in the Java 2 (version 1.3) platform, which puts it several years ahead of Microsoft's Java 1.1-based browser extension. The open-source Mozilla browser announced its support for the Java plug-in back in 1998! It's a much better model to ship Java as a plug-in than to cram it into every browser shipped.

I looked through my full set of bookmarks and could only find one site that uses Java in the browser without requiring the Java plug-in. The site? Microsoft's own MSN Gaming Zone, with its popular Java game, Bejeweled. I guess the company decided its own site could get by even if users need to download Java separately.