At the official passing of the Java torch today, Larry Ellison couldn’t resist dangling the suggestion that Oracle is getting ready to launch some sort of new client software platform to rival Google’s Android and – an unspoken challenge – Microsoft.

The Oracle boss was on stage with Scott McNealy at the annual JavaOne event in San Francisco, in what looked like a symbolic ceding of Sun’s leadership of Java after nearly two decades.

Not surprisingly, Ellison was quick to reassure the developers on hand that he was ready to invest in and expand Java. And, on the same day that Acer confirmed it would launch the first PC running Google’s Android operating system, he also hinted at something similar from Oracle:

We’re going to see lots of Java devices, some coming from our friends at Google but I don’t see why they won’t come from us at Sun/ Oracle.

In case the message was missed, he added this for good measure:

There will be computers, devices based on JavaFX, not only from Google but also from [Oracle].

It is more than 15 years since Ellison began talking up the thin client as the next computing platform. Now that Oracle has its own Linux distribution, and assuming it gets its hands on Sun software like Java and OpenOffice, it will soon be in a position to make good on that long promise.

Of course, it could be that Ellison is just dropping hints to keep his rivals guessing. But with Android poised to make deeper inroads in the PC and handset markets, it feels like the market for client software platforms is finally opening up. Given his history, that certainly sounds like something Ellison wouldn’t want to miss.

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