March 20, 2001, 1:35 PM —
During the first years of Java's phenomenal growth in popularity, I fully endorsed Sun's controlling authority over Java. Sure, Sun did it in part to make money on licensing (as if that's a bad thing), but the bottom line was that Sun had no choice but to assert its control.
Microsoft was itching to distort Java into a Windows-centric language, thereby undermining Sun's effort to promote Java as platform independent. Regardless of whether you think Sun was successful at making Java platform independent, the only way Sun had a prayer of achieving its goal was to prevent companies such as Microsoft from coopting Java.
Had Java already been widely adopted, Sun could have relied upon the fact that a platform-independent Java was the de facto standard. But it hadn't been widely adopted yet, so it didn't have the status of a de facto standard to protect it. Sun could have turned Java over to a standards group, but it could not do so without risking the possibility that Microsoft would influence that group in its favor. Considering Microsoft's bank account, that was a very realistic fear. Therefore, Sun's only viable option was to retain control over Java.