No JVM in XP—Sun, Others Respond

Last week's revelation (July 17) that Microsoft will not be including the Java Virtual Machine in its new Windows XP operating system sparked immediate and impassioned responses from rival technology supporters.

Sun Microsystems, creator of Java, responded to the news the next day with a prepared statement, maintaining that the decision will "hurt consumers and the millions of developers [who] use the Java platform. Microsoft's attempts to neutralize the innovations brought to the Web by the Java platform are widely known."

In an open letter to "all original equipment manufacturers of the Intel-compatible personal computing world technology," industry expert Clay Shirky, a partner in The Accelerator Group, called the Microsoft announcement "a terrible blow to the computing ecosystem," and he called on the OEMs to "...exercise the 'greater flexibility' Microsoft has promised in the configuration of the systems you ship, by installing the most recent version of the Java Runtime Environment on every personal computer you manufacture, and installing the most recent version of the Java plug-in on every browser."

Officially, Microsoft says the JVM won't be included in upcoming versions of its desktop-dominating OS to avoid violating a settlement agreement with Sun, which filed suit against Microsoft three years ago, charging the company with creating a Windows-only version of Java. Under the settlement agreement, Microsoft can no longer license from Sun any current or new versions of Java. Microsoft also had to pay Sun $20 million, and was barred from using Sun's "Java-Compatible" trademark.

In its statement, Sun dismissed Microsoft's claims that the decision had anything to do with the settlement agreement: "This move by Microsoft was a unilateral decision and was not a result of the settlement of the Sun Microsoft lawsuit. That settlement gives Microsoft seven years to distribute the Java virtual machine."

The beta version of Windows XP, released to developers last week, did not include the JVM. After XP is launched in October, users who need to run Web-based Java programs will be directed to download the JVM from Microsoft's Web site (

Sun officials said that the company will continue providing Java support for Windows users, including a Windows VM based on the latest Java technology. "Sun continues to see very strong demand for cross-platform Java technology from both developers and end users on Windows," they said.

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About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].