JavaSE 7 JSR Approved Despite Division
Oracle has announced that the JavaSE 7 governing JSR (336) has passed the public review ballot. Google voted against the vote, Werner Keil abstained, and no vote was received from Credit Suisse. Many others adding their concerns regarding the ongoing licensing dispute between Sun/Oracle and Apache.
Java releases are referenced with a JSR which lists the contents of each release, by reference to other JSRs. These have often been completed ahead of the JSR vote (though some, like Project Coin, are effectively ongoing through into Java 8) so the act of JavaSE JSR approval is really a rubber-stamping opportunity.
Many have commented before on the state of the licensing aspect of Java, which places “Field of Use” restrictions on where alternate implementors can run their JDKS. This was instigated by Sun in order to prevent open and separate implementations for running on the early 2000 era “dumbphones”, which was their only significant licensing stream for Java.
The Apache Harmony project aimed to provide an independent implementation not only of the JVM but also the class libraries, but without being allowed access to the Java TCK was never able to refer to itself as Java. Since Oracle's takeover of Sun Microsystems, it had stepped up the pressure against Apache, inviting IBM to play a key role in the future of the OpenJDK (and subsequently Apple as well) to avoid platform-specific forks.
Stephen Colebourne, who has been writing for some time about the situation, calls it passing in the Zombie JCP, highlighting “You cannot claim to be an Open Standards body if you do not allow implementations of the specification.”
In the latest round SouJava, IBM, RedHat, the London Java Community, Goldman Sachs & Co, and Fujitsu all raised concerns about licensing, and a number of participants also raised concerns about the overall transparency of the process. During the earlier review ballot everyone except Apache, Google and Tim Peierls voted for the proposal, making it the first JavaSE that wasn't unanimously voted for. However, Werner Keil, SAP AG, IBM, Eclipse, RedHat and Credit Suisse all made comments in their votes that the ongoing dispute was harmful to the Java community at large. Since Oracle was going to go ahead with the release regardless of the outcome of the vote, some members switched from abstaining to voting against the proposal in protest.