Java is a programming language that gives the computer more multimedia punch than would otherwise be available to us over a regular telephone line connection.
"Java is the definitive program that is emerging for interactivity on the Internet," said Kim Polese, manager of Java marketing. OK, she's biased. But a band of influential forces, including Starwave Corp., HotWired and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, are all employing Java.
Even L.L. Bean is checking out how it might deploy Java on an interactive catalog.
Java will be compatible with Netscape Navigator 2.0, the newest version of Netscape's ubiquitous browser, which is due out in December.
"It's exactly what the Web needs to try to drive a mass market acceptance," said Emily Green, senior analyst with Forrester Research, Cambridge, Mass.
Yet it's too early, Ms. Green stresses, to say whether even a hot product like Java is a new standard or a pioneer that will be passed by.
"We've really been trying to tell [clients] to stay loose with tools," Ms. Green said.
"It's all in such an uproar right now. In general, you don't want to fall in love with something and build your world around it.'