IT’S amusing to read the trade press these days. Netscape, Sun Microsystems, and Oracle would have you believe that they speak for the average desktop computer user. That’s right, Scott McNealy of Sun knows what the average business and home computer user wants even though to date he’s only sold workstations that cost in the tens of thousands of dollars and use one of the least friendly operating systems in the history of microcomputing—UNIX. Also speaking for the desktop computer user is Oracle’s Larry Ellison, who is leading the push to build Network Computers and put Microsoft out of business. This from a company whose only real achievement has been a great minicomputer-based database server. Suddenly, the people at Oracle also are experts in desktop computers and operating systems.
Then there’s the matter of Netscape Corporation, which is crying to the U.S. Justice Department about Microsoft trying to put them out of business by giving away Internet Explorer. This from a company that for years gave away Navigator in order to put other browser companies like Spry out of business.
Netscape, Sun, and Oracle want us to abandon VBA for Java because the Java virtual machine runs on every desktop, not only Windows desktops. Thus, we should throw away our years of experience programming with VBA and its sibling languages (Access Basic and VB) to start programming in a C-derivative so our apps can run on the 5 percent of computers that don’t already run Windows?
I sometimes wonder if C wasn’t really just a crude April Fool’s joke that only by accident escaped out of AT&T Labs. Let’s face it: C is a terribly cryptic language that’s difficult to learn and use. Yes, it’s great for systems programming, but so is 8080 Assembler. C, C++, and their recent stepchild, Java, are not for the average programmer who appreciates niceties such as ease of learning and code readability.