Friday, May 14, 2021

Microsoft, Sun Java Spat Heads to Federal Court

Microsoft and Sun Microsystems
are headed to a U.S. federal court in Baltimore today over an ongoing legal
spat that is asking a federal judge to force Microsoft to include Sun’s Java
programming language in Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system.

Microsoft attorneys on Tuesday are expected to present arguments before U.S.
District Judge J. Frederick Motz against Sun, which filed its antitrust
lawsuit against Microsoft back in March. Sun is seeking more than $1 billion
in damages, alleging that Microsoft’s policies thwarted the development of
its Java software programming language.

“Sun finds it important to pursue this legal strategy, but I’m not sure if I
agree with it. Most companies have made their decisions about whether, or
not, to use Java on the client side, so these latest legal maneuverings are
unlikely to have much effect on those decisions going forward,” Mike Gilpin,
research fellow at Giga Information Group, based in Cambridge,
Mass.

Java is designed to run on a variety of computer operating systems, but when
Microsoft dropped Java from inclusion in the introduction of its popular
Windows XP operating system last year, Sun became infuriated and then took
action on the legal front. Since its initial decision, Microsoft has
reversed its policy and has said it would include Java in future updates of
the Windows XP operating system, but only until 2004.

Java’s inclusion in XP “matters more on the client side, rather than on the
server side,” Gilpin said, adding, “it’s all about the browser, because it’s
typically through the browser that client applications gain access to Java,
and make use of Java.”

“The fact that Microsoft controls the tools and the environment gives them a
built in advantage in supporting rich clients,” Gilpin added.

“You could argue that Sun has been hurt by Microsoft, but there are many
factors that have caused Java on the client to come out the way it has. Sun
has made some mistakes, its user interface is not as usable as the Windows
interface, and for example, Visual Studio .Net is winning over developers,
who are looking for a rich client environment,” Gilpin said.

While nine states proposed that Java be included in XP, as part of the
settlement proposed by the U.S. Department of Justice, that suggestion was
rejected by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly on November 1st.

At today’s hearing, both Microsoft and Sun will present witnesses, which
will include a senior executive, a leading software engineer and a renowned
economist.

Whatever happens in the Baltimore courtroom today, the fact remains that
Java is having trouble gaining traction among developers looking for a rich
client environment.

“Java is useful in multiple operating system environments, but Microsoft’s
interfaces are much more widely being used,” Gilpin said.

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