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Allez Java!
from TBTF for 1997-09-22

This amusing first-person account of a Paris public-relations debacle was penned by an unnamed attendee at the Microsoft developer conference. It was forwarded by Keith Bostic <tb#nev@bostic.com#tf>.
I was at the Microsoft developer conference in Paris. The attendance at the beginning was a solid 1200 developers, at the end a mere 50! Here is what happened:

During the 4 hours show they spent 2 hours presenting IE4.0 and after the break started with "A word on Java."

First the French director of marketing asked "how many of you have used Java?" and about 75% of the room raised their hands. He then asked, "...and of those, how many do have something out in production?" and a mere 30% raised their hands (which I though was good enough!). He then proceded to bash Java for all its weakenesses. For his grand finale he talked about Mocha and Wingdis saying that this is what happened with the byte-code, that anybody could decompile and read those precious lines you had sweated so much to code, bla bla bla.... and showed on a wide screen the decompiled code.

You would not believe it but the crowd started booing and hissing, granted that it wasn't a smart thing to do, and then silence again even on a bewildered stage, until somebody yelled "Go Java!" (which in french sounds like: "Allez Java!") and the whole room started cheering and applauding... the guys on stage physically stepped back and were obviously stunned that it would backfire like that.

It was beautiful.

And then the people started leaving the room, at first one by one and then massively over the course of an hour. The guy on stage could not believe his eyes and the poor devil couldn't find his words, he was actually pathetic when he squirmished a "I have to finish this..." as people were leaving right under his nose.

The funniest part was the end. After 1 hour of a bleeding Microsoft audience, and of people randomly applauding and yelling "Java!", and a presentation they had to stop short due to the speaker's weak state, marketing had prepared a game where they would give gifts to people randomly chosen... of course it wasn't until the 7th name or so that the guy was actually still present in the room and it was a guy from Oracle. No comment. With merely 50 people left in the room, the very brief Question and Answer session started and guess what?

They had 4 questions on portability ;-)

Like I said ... it was beautiful!

[ TBTF for 1997-09-22 ]