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Sun Microsystems Inc. Wednesday officially released the beta of the next version of its standard Java platform, Java 2 Standard Edition 1.5, making the technology available for download from its Web site.

The new release gains several ease-of-use features for developers, the company said. Among the new language changes in the release that assist developers are generic types, metadata, autoboxing of primitive types, enumerated types, static import, C style formatted input/output, variable arguments, concurrency utilities and a simpler RMI (Remote Method Invocation) interface generation, Sun said.

In December Sun made an overture to Java developers in what some called the “open sourcing” of the testing of the J2SE 1.5 platform.

At the end of last year, the Santa Clara, Calif., company agreed to open up its alpha builds of the long-awaited J2SE, also known as Tiger, to developers for testing earlier than anticipated.

Sun was forced to act when a Java developer posted a message to JavaLobby regarding a focused Sun developer program aimed at providing early code to developers creating products supporting the Java platform. However, the program, known as CAP (Compatibility Access Program), is set up to handle only some 20 developers, but was quickly deluged with requests following the JavaLobby post about a week ago, sources said.

Rick Ross, president of JavaLobby Inc., a Cary, N.C., organization that promotes Java development, said hundreds of Java developers who are JavaLobby members swarmed Sun looking to get ahold of early J2SE 1.5 builds.

“The CAP program was designed to handle at most 20 participants,” Ross said.

However, as a result of the overwhelming JavaLobby response, “Sun is going to deliver early access to J2SE 1.5 probably 60 to 90 days before it would otherwise have become available,” Ross said. “Sun has done something clearly responsive to developer input.”

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