To limit the risks, Open-Sourcing java would require very strong test suites – as usual, software cannot be better than its tests. But Sun certainly has such test suites, and opening them would only help improve them. So it’s not as risky as starting from scratch.
Today’s news go in this direction: Rod Smith of IBM has reportedly written to Sun to offer a collaboration on Open-Source java, sharing the load in an open way. He explicitely mentions Sun’s test suites as part of the idea.
I think this is great news. Backed by two companies that most people trust (at least at the technical level), and with strong and open testing, an Open-Source java will certainly succeed and improve Java’s acceptance. But time is running fast and other platforms are not standing still.
(by the way, I’m thankful to Tom for still respecting me after waiting soooo long for that Swiss wine. The post-it is still here right under my eyes, with lots of this on it ;-)
Update: there’s more details and lots of good ideas at linuxtoday.
Update #2: there’s more at Berin Loritsch’s Weblog and at BileBlog. But I’m not linking to this last one, its tone doesn’t deserve it (you’ll find the link at Berin’s anyway, let’s not push its Google ranking ;-)