Sun to call time on mobile-specific versions of Java

When it was first announced in the mid-1990s, the Java programming language was billed as `write-once - run-anywhere' but, pretty soon, it became apparent that there needed to be a Micro Edition (ME) in order to accommodate playback on a mobile device such as a cellphone.

Now Sun has announced plans to enhance Java Standard Edition (SE) to include ME facilities as, er, standard, meaning that Java really will be `write-once - run-anywhere.'

This is excellent news for security-aware mobile users as, whilst Java SE is relatively bug-proof these days, the same cannot be said about Java ME, mainly because the ME version has nowhere near the code size and protection that its desktop big brother has.

The slightly bad news, however, is that the move to Java SE won't happen in one fail swoop. According to Rich Green, Sun's executive vide president of software, Java ME compliance is likely to be around until the end of the decade.

That's the length of time that Green reckons today's smartphones will last, after which time users' mobiles will be Java SE compliant.

Three years isn't that long in mobile phone terms, but for security experts, it's a lifetime.

And that's before you factor in the possibility that users of today's smartphones have a spare version of their favourite handset in the cupboard...