Microsoft gains stay in Java battle
- By Jack Vaughan
[February 4, 2003] - The legal fight between Sun and Microsoft over Java shows signs that it could
eventually rival the DOJ-Microsoft case for lengthiness and intense pendulum
swings that put one side, then the other, in an apparent position to win. At the
same time, the parties sometimes appear on the verge of a quick solution.
A series of private talks between Sun and Microsoft recently ended after
several weeks during which the two, at a judge's direction, negotiated to place
the Java virtual machine inside shipping copies of Windows operating systems.
Microsoft had also been ordered to remove its Microsoft Java Virtual Machine
from its products.
On Monday, an appeals court stayed a lower court judge's injunction that
would have forced Microsoft to formally include the Java runtime environment in
the Windows PC operating system or Internet Explorer. At almost the same time,
Microsoft published a statement outlining the steps it was prepared to take
should the injunction ultimately hold.
At the end of December 2002, Judge Frederick Motz, U.S. District Court for
the District of Maryland, said he would order Microsoft to include Java with its
Windows PC OSes to help ensure that software developers had choices in computer
languages. At the time, Motz said he was persuaded that Sun's likelihood of
success in an overall antitrust trial ''is substantial.'' Motz said he hoped Sun
and Microsoft could successfully negotiate terms to add Sun's Java to
Microsoft's Windows, but that has so far proved fruitless.
Microsoft's statement shows how the company would seek to comply with the
order should it lose its appeal. Viewers suggest that these terms are similar to
ones Sun rejected in the recent negotiations.
Microsoft said it would:
Sun's Java Runtime Environment (JRE) available on Windows Update within 90 days
of the effective data of the order as a recommended update.
* Stop shipping the Microsoft VM in service packs for
Windows XP this month;
* Include Sun's JRE in
Windows XP SP1b for English and German speaking markets within 120 days from the
effective date of the order, covering all Windows XP versions within 210 days;
* Include neither the
Microsoft VM nor the Sun JRE in Windows Server 2003, which the company said is
not covered by the District Court's order.
Because Microsoft won a stay of Motz's injunction, filed January 21, the
order will not go into effect until upheld on appeal. Sun and Microsoft have
jointly requested an expedited briefing schedule for the appeal.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that temporarily stayed the
injunction to include Java with Windows is expected to hear the two sides again
at the end of March.
''We regret the 4th Circuit Court's decision. The preliminary injunctions
granted by the District Court will benefit consumers and the Java Community's
developers, enterprises and system vendors,'' said Lee Patch, vice president,
Legal Affairs, Sun Microsystems Inc., in a statement. Patch said Sun looked
forward to ''demonstrating the merits of District Court's decision'' when the
appeal is heard.
Links to rulings and company statements:
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
in re: Sun Microsystems v. Microsoft
, Feb. 4, 2003, go to http://pacer.ca4.uscourts.gov/opinion.pdf/031116R1.U.pdf
U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Maryland issues a
preliminary injunction ,
Jan. 21, 2003, go to http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/java/01-21-03sunorder.pdf
Microsoft response to injunction stay dated Feb. 3, 2003, go to http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/evaluation/news/jre.asp
''Judge set to force Microsoft to carry Java,'' ADTmag.com, Dec. 23, 2002, go to
Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.