Sun Microsystem's bid to become the standards bearer for its Java programming language suffered a serious blow Tuesday when the United States ISO technical advisory group vetoed the request. Australia, France, Denmark, Hungary, the UK and Sweden have all voted in favor of Sun's application to the ISO, which makes it decision based on a consensus of all the voting countries. Nineteen other countries must cast their votes by the end of November.

"We are disappointed. We went in there cautiously and thought there was a 50/50 chance," said George Paolini, Sun's director of corporate marketing for Sun's JavaSoft division. "But we need to keep it in perspective. Six other countries have voted, and all have voted yes. There are 27 countries involved. So right now the votes stand 6-1."

Microsoft seemed pretty excited about the decision, however, and made its own bold public statement.

"Microsoft is glad to see the U.S. vote to uphold the integrity of the international standards process. Sun's proposal to have ISO endorse their proprietary technology is a brazen marketing stunt that risks significantly devaluing the entire international standards process. Sun either needs to go all the way and make Java a real open standard or admit it is proprietary. They don't get to have their cake and eat it too. We hope the rest of the world gives the same deep consideration to the implications of Sun's proposal for the future of the international standards process.