Thursday, April 3, 1997 by Dave Winer.
I don't like Sun. Every time I sit in an audience listening to a Sun pitch, I get angry. I'm going to try to figure out why that is. It's the same feeling I got sitting in an old-style Apple audience. There's something that these people aren't saying. They're lying to cover it up.
I don't think Microsoft is the big destroyer Sun says they are. I think they clean up the messes companies like Sun and Apple and Novell (IBM and Netscape too) leave behind, and get paid well for doing it.
Java grabbed the cursor and assumed a lot of the future of the Internet. The promise of the Internet was open-ness. No one owns the standards. I've written about this many times. It was a way around the mess created by the failures of earlier Microsoft challengers who couldn't overcome their own greed and stupidity and ineptness.
The shame of Java is that it's being used to serve Sun's corporate purposes. To keep their stock price up, to employ more and more people. They're willing to share power, but only with other huge deal-making corporations. They think this strategy will fend off failure. They're wrong!
It made sense for Sun to own Java for some time, but that time is gone. It's time for Sun to set it free. To become an important, even leading, Java developer. Let the language find its own way in the world without their corporate fear.
Sun CEO Scott McNealy seems to agree. "You don't have to own English to be a writer." Right on! But his employees aren't listening to him. I suspect that McNealy isn't technical enough, or doesn't care enough, to understand what they're doing. Eventually Sun will certainly set Java free. But will they do it before or after they destroy the entrepreneurial energy of the Internet?
I don't own Java, that's clear. But I also write software. Some of it would fit into Sun's model for appropriate software for a guy like me to develop, and some would not because I don't work for IBM or Netscape, or another of their corporate partners.
I would like to feel that I own Java as much as anyone does. To have a competitive market, where I don't have to prove anything to anyone else in order to have a right to contribute. But that's not the system they've put in place. It's all designed to put them at the top of a pyramid. They're inventing stuff that's already been invented. And not doing a great job of it. They struggle to hold on. I don't believe it can work.
They ask if I fear Microsoft. That's not the point. Clearly they fear Microsoft. But I fear them much more. When my fear is the primary thing, I stay way. I hope!
No doubt there will be more to say about this.