Java originator Sun Microsystems took a lot of flak over the years for its delayed effort to make Java, or portions of Java, open source. The OpenJDK was too little too late for many people.
But the OpenJDK found its adherents, not the least of which was Google, which was able to take the OpenJDK and create the Android platform for mobile applications. The Google approach to Android has proved easy to learn, and the platform is quickly rocketing past the more formal Java ME platform, which has been laboring for years to gain better position in mobile applications.
Last week, Java’s new owner Oracle sued Google for its use of Java in Android, thus placing both Android and Java in a bit of limbo. There have been in recent years more and more innovative uses of various languages and frameworks running on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) — some might call these hybrids. Some of these will be in a bit of limbo until Oracle’s intentions versus Google become clearer.
At issue immediately is the way people have called Android “Java-based,” and how Google fashioned a Dalvik VM to ”play nice on the small device.” This VM is described as a ‘clean room’ implementation of a JVM, similar in theme to the reverse engineered versions of the Intel 80386 processor that became widespread. For Google, part of the good news of Dalvik was that, unlike your usual JVM, it came without a license fee. In the days ahead a judge may be required to decide ‘how clean was the clean room’ that developed the Dalvik.
What seems clear for now is that Oracle will be much more aggressive in protecting its Java rights than was Sun. What is unclear is how this will affect Java generally. What do you think?