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08 June 2011, 10:44

Java SE 7 is passed to a chorus of protest

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JCP logo The Java Community Process vote on Java SE 7 has taken place and has been passed, but not without a chorus of protest from participants in the process. Google's was the only no vote, but IBM, Red Hat, SouJava, London Java Community, Goldman Sachs and Fujitsu all said they were only voting yes on the technical merits of the proposal and did not approve of Oracle's handling of the Java licensing, the expert groups or the transparency of the process.

Google's no vote is because previously the JCP voted that TCK (Technology Compatibility Kit) licences, which are part of the standard, should not be use to restrict compatible implementations. Currently though, the TCK for Java forbids use on anything other than a general purpose desktop computer; Sun, and now Oracle, charged licence fees for other uses, especially for mobile platforms. Oracle and Google are currently clashing in court over patents and copyrights related to Google's use of Java in its Android mobile platform. But Google is not alone in this objection: in October 2010, Doug Lea resigned from the JCP executive committee and in December 2010 the Apache Software Foundation followed.

VMWare, Eclipse Foundation, Intel, SAP, HP, Ericsson and Oracle voted yes with no comment. Werner Keil abstained but said he was abstaining because of the lack of transparency in the use of an umbrella Java Specification Request (JSR) which referenced other JSRs under Oracle's control, adding "Not only have other EC members expressed their discomfort with this situation and confirmed some of these developments behind closed doors they demanded being opened, haven't been".

Stephen Colebourne, former JSR 310 lead, noted in a blog posting that Oracle had said it would continue with Java 7 no matter what the result of the vote was and that this was a vote by the "Zombie JCP". On the licensing issue, Colebourne wrote: "you cannot claim to be an Open Standards body if you do not allow implementations of the specification". He suggested, with tongue firmly in cheek, that it could be fixed – "Apache OpenJDK anyone?".

Oracle believes it is addressing these issues with the recently announced process which aims to reform the Java Community Process. though will take some time: it will be at least six months until the JCP processes are changed to address the transparency and governance issues and at least a year or more before the TCK licensing issue may be addressed.


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