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I would take Sun seriously. I don't think they have perjured themselves.
Without taking sides on this issue. I am advising my clients to begin to plan for a migration from Java. I am not advising them to migrate.
Whenever a key technology player is brought to their knees, a smart manager should begin to plan alternatives.
I believe Sun when it says Jave is facing extinction. I don't know that the injunction will be granted in time to prevent this. If the injunction is granted, I don't know if Java will recover and become viable again.
Can an important language just disappear? I remember Pascal being as well respected as Java. Where is Pascal today? Where are ALGOL and PL/1?
Microsoft is appealing the injunction. In support of the injunction Sun raised the spector of Java's extiction.
This has been widely reported. Here's one URL of an Associated Press story. [biz.yahoo.com...]
There are at least 2 working versions of .NET for the UNIX platforms. One is Microsoft's and the other is Open Source. I posted information on them on Webmasterworld months ago. Each have a C# compiler. The transition from Java to C# is considered fairly easy.
That's why a am telling my clients to PLAN not to begin to migrate so that they can see the alternatives and develop a strategy. It is highly unusual for a major software player to call attention to its desperate straits.
Java as a browser extension has been dead for more than a year as far as I am concerned, and I'm running Linux. If a site expects me to install the Java plugin, then I'll go to the competition. In this field, Java has mostly been replaced by Flash.
Actually, even as an old unix fan, I'm somehow surprised that Sun still exists. The two chances I see for them to survive are the enterprise Java stuff (justifying the expensive hardware) on one hand, and Linux on the other. But they were pretty much the last one of the big players to jump on the Open Source bandwagon, and they don't seem to have fully understood the game yet.
Meanwhile Java has to contend with an onslaught from the unix camp. At the Linux World Expo Mono won the `Best Open Source Project' award.
Mono which implements .NET and C#. ADO.net and ASP.NET on unix and linux servers is begining to gain followers.
...but on the server-side, for enterprise solutions, Java is very very far from dead.
Where is Pascal today?
..Borland Delphi is a fairly popular IDE for developing apps in Pascal.
And if Java passes away as the "king of the mountain"
[...] what would take its place?
Especially on a unix-ish platform (i.e. not MS "dot-net")?
Project Mono [go-mono.com] is (going to be) a dot-net for *nix platforms - and it is open source. It's early days yet for this project, but they are already making great strides with its development.
Sun's strategy is to make their money from hardware sales, and it's something they seem to be doing quite well. When you need that kind of power in a server, there aren't many vendors to choose from.
A few years back, it used to be said that you'd never get fired for choosing IBM - nowadays, I think the same probably applies to Sun (hardware).
fwiw, eBay's backend runs on Sun systems.