|The Curse of
Java programs that run on any machine and applets that run in any
browser are a great idea! Unfortunately, they're also an idea that's
been thoroughly trashed ever since Internet Explorer and Windows95 debuted.
Everyone who's had to do a full reboot because of this problem has both
Microsoft and Netscape to thank for it.
Back when Win95 was still on the drawing boards, Microsoft decided
that since it didn't own Java it would try to invent its own "MS Java". So
they built components into their Windows operating system which cause
lock-ups and crashes if you use a Netscape browser to view
a non-MS Java applet (ie almost every applet built without using Microsoft's
tools). Golly! What a surprise!
As as result - if you decide to add a Java applet to your web page
right now - you can expect to say goodbye to at least 50% of your
audience (and for some sites, as much as 75%).
This is because your Java-enabled web page will cause anyone using
Netscape's browser (which doesn't have a true Java compiler in it) to lock
up and/or fall over. And if you think people will visit you a second
time after you've given them this sort of interactive "Java experience",
please think again.
Java applets have steadily disappeared from all the Net's biggest
sites ever since this problem began in 1997. The browser lock-up problem
is the principal reason why - which is a great pity, considering Java's
But is the situation hopeless? Possibly not. From IE 5.x
onwards, Microsoft promised to adhere to common Web standards with its browser.
And the new Netscape Communicator 5.x (which will debut in 2000) may
finally overcome the "Java bomb" currently built into every PC.
If this happens, then Java applets may become safe to use on
your web site again and Java applet developers (who've suffered right along
with the rest of us) may start to make money again too. But given how long
it takes people to upgrade their browsers, you can't really expect this to
occur before mid-2001.