Microsoft Wins Stay But Removes VM Anyway

UPDATE: Microsoft scores a stay from Judge Motz's order marking a setback for Sun Microsystems; but the company posts Windows XP Service Pack 1a for download, removing its Virtual Machine.
Hours after a federal court of appeals blocked an order forcing Microsoft to incorporate Sun Microsystems' Java programming language, the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant went ahead anyway removing its own Virtual Machine (VM) from its Windows XP operating system.

Late Monday, Microsoft posted its Windows XP Service Pack 1a for users to download. The company said Windows XP SP1a does not include or install the Microsoft VM, which provides support for running Java programs.

But ironically, the move comes after a major victory for Microsoft. Earlier Monday, an appellate court granted a stay to an order by a lower court that said Microsoft had to incorporate Sun's Java programming language into its Windows operating system software.

Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler discussed the judge's decision.

"We are pleased the Fourth Circuit has stayed the Court order and agreed to an expedited appeal," Desler told "It's appropriate that these issues are reviewed by the Appeals Court before we take any further steps toward implementing the injunction. We have worked very hard over the past several weeks to comply fully with the Court's order. Yesterday's stay appears to put that process on hold until the Circuit Court has completed its review of our appeal."

Yet, the latest ruling is by no means an end to the ongoing battle by the two computer companies. Back in January, U.S. District Court Judge J. Frederick Motz backed Sun's request for a preliminary injunction that would have forced Microsoft to carry the latest version of Java in Windows.

While Motz's preliminary injunction was considered a small victory for Sun, now the court of appeals stay of that decision swings the pendulum back in favor of Microsoft, which is fighting to keep Java out of its Windows software.

As a result of SP1a, Microsoft will no longer provide Microsoft VM as a download off of its Windows Update site. No new Microsoft product will include the Microsoft VM, including Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 SP4.

Microsoft's Desler commented on this move as well.

"The Appeals Court decision does not change the step we took yesterday to replace SP1 with an updated version of the service pack that does not contain our Java VM or end the process to move out of the Java business that we began several years ago," he said. "We will continue the process to get out of the Java business in a way that allows us to support and minimize any impact on our customers. SP1a will continue to be available to customers on Windows Update and we will no longer include the MS JVM in any Microsoft product moving forward."

The legal battle between Sun and Microsoft will continue, as Sun has a broader antitrust case against the software giant, which may not be resolved for a year, or longer. Sun is seeking damages in excess of $1 billion in that case.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit's stay of the injunction will last until it rules on Microsoft's appeal, which the appeals court is expected to hear in the last week of March. Timing is a major issue in this case. Sun argues as more time goes on, it is further harmed by not having Java in Windows. On the other hand, Microsoft argues that incorporating Java in Windows is a massive engineering task, which will absorb the company's human, engineering and human resources.

Microsoft has already spelled out plans how it would comply with Judge Motz's injunction, if the court of appeals ultimately does not overturn it. Microsoft says it will make Java in Windows available through a combination of downloads and compact discs to meet the terms of Judge Motz's 120-day deadline, as spelled out in his preliminary injunction. But now with the court of appeals stay order, Microsoft is able to put its plan for building Java into Windows on hold.

Microsoft says its prepared to comply with Judge Motz's order if the court of appeals doesn't formally overturn it and rule in its favor in late March, or early April. Microsoft would ship an updated version of Windows XP Service Pack 1, which would include the most current Java Runtime Environment software from Sun.

Upon the decision by the court of appeals, Sun issued a statement: "We regret the 4th Circuit Court's decision. The preliminary injunctions granted by the district court will benefits consumers and the Java community's developers, enterprises and system vendors."

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