Java SE 7 gets thumbs-up from standards committee

The upgrade has been approved by the Java Community Process executive committee, but members are still split over licensing issues

The next edition of Java has been approved by a Java Community Process executive committee, but not without some acrimony.

Java Platform, SE (Standard Edition) 7 has been passed this week by the JCP Executive Committee for SE/EE (Enterprise Edition), by a vote of 13 in favor and one - Google- against. Oracle, IBM, VMware, Red Hat, and Fujitsu are among the affirmative votes, and two committee members -- Credit Suisse and Java architect Werner Keil -- did not vote. Specifically, committee members voted on Java Specification Request 336, which pertains to the Java upgrade. Voting on the public review ballot for Java SE 7 finished up earlier this week after beginning on May 31. Java SE 7 still faces another vote, on a final approval ballot.

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Java SE 7 features accommodations for multi-core processors and dynamic scripting as well as an API for access to common file system operations while still allowing for platform-specific code. Apparently, however, Oracle is still getting heat over its dispute with the Apache Software Foundation over a technology compatibility kit and licensing for the Apache Harmony version of Java. Many committee members protested Java licensing in the comments section accompanying the vote. The dispute dates back to when Sun Microsystems was in charge of Java; Oracle acquired Sun early in 2010. Apache resigned from the committee late last year.

Vendors did not specifically mention Apache by name in their objections but the complaints are familiar. "While Google supports the technical content of this JSR, we are voting no because of its licensing terms," Google said in the comments section of the JCP voting page. IBM and Red Hat voted in favor of Java SE 7, but with reservations. IBM noted that its vote "is based on the technical merits of this JSR and is not a vote on the licensing terms. IBM supports licensing models that create an open and level playing field by allowing third parties to create independent implementations of Java specifications and that do not allow individuals or companies to exercise unnecessary control for proprietary advantage."

Red Hat, meanwhile, expressed its desire for a "licensing model that creates an open arena for everyone, including those not members of the JCP, and removes any ability for one individual or vendor to exert undue control over a standard." Another member, SouJava, expressed similar concerns in voting affirmatively on Java SE 7. "Our members are satisfied with the evolution of the technology, but are unhappy with how the licensing terms in this proposal discriminates against open source implementations, and how this can negatively affect or influence other JSRs." SouJava also expressed concerns about a lack of transparency in the JCP.

JCP members brought up Java licensing concerns when voting on Java SE 7 late last year. Oracle offered up no comments in voting to pass the Java SE 7 specification.

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