Sunday, April 14, 2024

Judge Signals Support for Sun in Java Hearing

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A federal judge made comments potentially favoring Sun Microsystems in its ongoing hearing with Microsoft
expected to conclude Thursday.

The federal judge hearing the case, J. Frederick Motz, asked whether Sun
would consider changing its request for a preliminary injunction to a
permanent injunction that would force Microsoft to carry Sun’s Java in
future versions of its software. Judge Motz also suggested Sun ask for a
damage claim of more than the $1 billion it is already requesting the court.
Sun’s lawyers said they are reviewing the suggestions by the judge.

In the federal appeals court recent ruling in the Microsoft antitrust case,
Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said that Microsoft’s distribution of any older
version of Java in its operating system wasn’t anticompetitive. But Judge
Motz seemed to disagree saying that “I would think having a non-compatible
Java would be a detriment.”

On Wednesday, Microsoft attorney Michael Lacovara offered into evidence an
e-mail sent by Sun’s Java inventor James Gosling to Sun vice president
Richard Green pointing that Sun’s problems with Java were part of its own

“We’re really [screwing] up on the client side — mostly through neglect,”
wrote Gosling to Green.

Lacovara put it another way, telling the court Wednesday that “whether or not
Microsoft is ‘acting unlawfully’ as you put it, the Java platform is already
fragmented due to the large number of Java run-time environments in the

Lacovara continued using Sun’s own PowerPoint presentation to indicate that its Java virtual machine lacked stability and a significant footprint, along with a lack of awareness about OEM product release schedules.

At issue is Java as a competitive platform to Microsoft’s .NET framework,
not only on the desktop where Microsoft has a dominant advantage, but also for
the growing market for distributed computing over mobile phones, handheld
devices and network servers.

At the hearing on Wednesday, Microsoft lawyer Michael Lacovara grilled Sun
witness University of Chicago economics professor Dennis Carlton getting him
to admit that Microsoft’s dominance on the desktop doesn’t necessarily
extend to emerging wireless computing markets.

Chris Jones, Microsoft’s vice president of its Windows Client Group, told
the court Wednesday that forcing Windows to contain Java could cause
Microsoft “significant harm.” He claimed that Microsoft could be liable for
problems with Java and there might not be a limit on the size of the Java
program within Windows, which could have “unintended consequences on the
rest of the operating system.”

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