It seems as if Microsoft's lawyers are now the product managers for Windows CE, at least when it comes to Java development tools.
Microsoft, apparently without warning, has yanked all Java tool sets, released and in beta, from its CE Web site. Developers have not only been left without support, but in most cases, without answers.
The action was a response to a recent court order that said Microsoft must support parts of Java that the company had earlier rejected. The rejection violated the licensing deal with Java's creator, Sun Microsystems, the judge said.
Among the products removed from the CE Web site are:
-- Visual J++ 1.1 for Windows CE.
-- Software development kits for CE Versions 1.0 and 2.1.
-- The Java development kit for the Jupiter Adaption Kit. Jupiter is the former code name for the latest release of CE.
-- J++ 1.1 Service Pack plans.
In place of those products will be a new tool set based on the Chai Java Virtual Machine, developed by Hewlett-Packard and licensed last spring to Microsoft.
Chai has caught the interest of many developers. "HP seems to be on track with Chai," says Don Sharer, senior software engineer at Accelerated Technology of Alabama, a vendor of embedded operating systems. Chai's key selling points: it was designed specifically for small devices and embedded systems and is much cheaper to license than Sun's Java Virtual Machine.
Microsoft says the situation regarding the Java tools will be resolved soon. "The change on Microsoft's Web site is only temporary, and the company will continue to offer Windows CE licensees the choice of using Java among other programming languages. The new tool set, however, will enable Microsoft to provide customers a high-performance Java solution that is tightly integrated with Windows CE," explains Joscelyn Zell, a spokeswoman at Microsoft's public relations agency, Waggener Edstrom.