Corrected at 11:53 a.m. PDT. See below for details.
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--In a case of converging technologies, Google App Engine took several steps toward the mainstream on its first birthday Tuesday at the same time that the concept of cloud computing in general is becoming more accepted.
Cloud computing presents applications as Internet-accessible services rather than software that runs on corporate servers or people's own PCs. It can mean anything from raw computing services that can be bolted together, as in the case of Amazon Web Services, to finished products such as the Picnik photo-editing site or SalesForce.com customer-management service. Google App Engine is an intermediate level, offering a general-purpose foundation.
Thus far, App Engine had been limited to Web applications written in the Python programming language favored internally at Google but not as much elsewhere. But on Tuesday, the top-requested App Engine feature, support for Java programs, arrived--albeit only in a preview form initially available only to the first 10,000 developers who sign up.
"It's the language of the enterprise," said Ryan Nichols, leader of product management and marketing at Appirio, a 140-person start-up that builds software for clients who want cloud computing applications. "It allows us to have a different level of conversation with our customers."
Google announced the Java support and a handful of other new App Engine features on its blog and at a Campfire One event for developers at its headquarters here. As with the regular App Engine service, use within certain limits is free, but developers must pay for heavy-duty App Engine use.
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