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As we discussed last week, Sun's Java developers may have gotten the worst of it in the recent spate of layoffs ... but, with all financal crises, the immediate response is not how to move forward but who to blame for the problems that led to the crisis in the first place. Thus, the question for many is not "Will the Sun layoffs hurt Java?", but rather, as the title of the recent eWeek article puts it, "Is Java to blame for Sun layoffs"?
The question was raised by eWeek readers in a discussion forum, and for those promoting the idea that Java is to blame, the answer is: yes, because Java isn't a good language. The implication is, of course, that had Java been better Sun would have been fine. Whatever you think of Java's quality, it's hard to argue that's true. As experts quoted in the article point out, Java hasn't been a "direct" moneymaker for Sun; ironically, as JBoss's Marc Fleury points out, Java's portability has actually helped some users migrate away from the expensive Sun servers that it was supposed to help sell. In that sense, one could say that Java is responsible for the Sun layoffs not because it's no good, but because it's too good at exactly what it was designed for -- running on multiple platforms. The question then becomes: could Java as conceived ever have helped Sun, or would it have had to have been something fundametally different -- something like .Net, only without the platform dominance that made .Net's platform lock-in endurable?