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Sun CEO Percolates Java-ites

SAN FRANCISCO -- Sun Microsystems' CEO Scott McNealy says the Internet all comes down to a fight between mankind and Microsoft - or as McNealy likes to refer to them as "the Monopolists."

The company's biggest Java fan implored a sea of developers at the JavaOne Conference here to continue to put as much energy into the seven-year-old programming language as he has.

"After all this time, people ask me why I haven't retired. I say it's because I can't leave my kids to a world of CTRL - ALT - DELETE," said McNealy. "I believe that in the fight between mankind and the other architecture that mankind is going to win. Mankind needs your help to evangelize this."

McNealy took nearly every opportunity to compare Sun's open approach to Microsoft's proprietary thinking and scoffed at his rival's attempt to address security issues. "So it takes an internal memo to intentionally get leaked to the press for Microsoft to say that they should consider security a priority - well, duh. Of course security is a priority. I doubt you would find me sending a letter like that to Ed or James," said McNealy referring to his COO and Java's inventor.

Sun has renewed its bitter battle with Microsoft over the company's lack of support of Java by the Windows XP operating system. Sun is also going head to head with Microsoft's .NET with its own XML-based Web services platform powered by the Java business language J2EE.

While Sun continues to foster one of - if not the largest - developer bases in the industry, McNealy warned developers not to turn to the "dark side" and to keep XML as open as HTML or ASCII programming languages.

"It's not just the desktop anymore," said McNealy. "We have to continue to write for services and other devices like wireless and cable set top boxes. Java is the answer for this because it gives everyone a chance to participate. The most dangerous feature of .NET is that Microsoft wants to be the service provider. The Sun and Java model means that everyone can be a service provider and you don't have to give up your legacy. And its here now."

But, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based networking giant created the most stir by settling its longstanding quarrel with the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) to secure the right to use Java in open source.

"This was listed as the number one issue in our community," said ASF representative Jason Hunter. "Now open source groups can have access for free and Sun is even going to be the support for an 800- number in case there are questions. To make it enforceable there is a legal document to sign. But, we believe the test kits will create a firm foundation and a better legal standing.

Sun also showed off its new Common Access Card, of which the U.S. Department of Defense is pledging to purchase 4.3 million. The Java-enabled cards will eventually be issued as a digital identity card for all of the DOD civil servants and inside the firewall contractors.