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Google will distribute Sun's Java along with Google Toolbar, the two companies announced. The deal would make it easier for PC users to run applications based on the Java programming language, such as the free productivity suite OpenOffice, a challenger to Office, a major cash cow for Microsoft.

Under the deal, Sun's Java Runtime Engine (JRE) will be offered as an option to users who download the Google Toolbar.

Blog searches and quick surveys during the couple hours after the announcement showed the blogosphere to be underwhelmed.

Quick Analysis:

  • Decent move for Sun; all upside; where there's a will there's a way. They were unsuccessful in forcing Microsoft to bundle Java properly with Windows or Internet Explorer; they have found another way onto the desktop.
  • Underwhelming (i) in general and (ii) after the 2-day hype
  • No news about a Google Office based on Sun's StarOffice.
  • Sun takes a step to unseat Windows from the desktop, yes, but a really really tiny one
  • What does Google get out of "the deal?" Was the JRE not already freely redistributable? Google gets some more eyeballs for Toolbar, yes, but enough to be meaningful?
  • Now what? So there'll be Java on more desktops (not all -- only the ones that download Google Toolbar / Desktop).
  • Do people who download the Google Toolbar want Java? Do folks who download Java want the Google Toolbar?
  • Expect Microsoft to turn up the heat against Google Toolbar / Desktop in the next version of Internet Explorer which is rumored to have all the great features of Firefox, and in the next version of Windows (Browser Wars Begin: Microsoft Targets Google?)
  • AJAX (asynchronous JavaScript and XML), the stuff that makes Google Maps cool, has been making Java less important and less relevant on the desktop for years; Java is arguably more important today on the server side
  • The announcement does seem to be a good indication of Google's intent and direction to build out an equivalent to Microsoft's desktop application, and willingness to partner to do so
It has long been rumored that Google is developing its own operating system or desktop, with an online calendaring application scheduled to be released in October.

StarOffice is far more than just an alternative to Microsoft Office. StarOffice -- or OpenOffice -- is based on standard XML, so it can act as the transformation layer between any application that can read the XML file format and legacy applications, argues Gary Edwards of OpenOffice.org.

"If Google comes along and … provides some basic AJAX-based editing, and allows people to do this editing in XHTML and OpenDocument, you have a clear line of capability that goes from simple HTML to a little bit more complicated but data-centric XHTML to a truly bridging XML technology, OpenDocument," Edwards said.

Source: Early Reaction to Google-Sun Announcement (GOOG)