Sun notches up another Java victory over Microsoft

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Sun Microsystems is going into 2003 with another notch on its belt in its ongoing battle with Microsoft after a US judge ordered the PC software company to include Sun’s version of Java with WIndows.

Sun has alleged that Microsoft violated antitrust laws in its efforts to halt market acceptance of Java. In a preliminary injunction, Judge J. Frederick Motz ruled that Microsoft deliberately worked to undermine Java's cross-platform interoperability.

"Though pretending to embrace the goal of compatibility, Microsoft intentionally took steps to defeat that goal," Motz wrote in his ruling which he said is intended to "prevent Microsoft from obtaining future advantage from its past wrongs and to correct the distortion in the marketplace that its violations of the antitrust laws have caused.

"As soon as the Java platform appeared, Microsoft appreciated its importance," Motz wrote, noting that Microsoft entered into an agreement with Sun to license and distribute products based on Java. "Senior Microsoft executives also became deeply concerned that Java had 'the potential ... to diminish the applications barrier to entry' protecting Microsoft's PC operating system monopoly."

Motz added: "Bill Gates wrote that the Java platform 'scares the hell out of me,' because 'it's still very unclear to me what our OS will offer to Java client applications code that will make them unique enough to preserve our market position.'"

"Because of the competitive threat Java presented, Microsoft devised and implemented a strategy to 'wrest control of Java away from Sun,'" Motz wrote. He cited examples of this policy which included unauthorised modifications to the core Java class libraries and failing to support the Java Native Interface.

In a surprise move, he also appeared to take a shot over the bows of .Net when he note: "Microsoft, having unlawfully fragmented the Java platform and having destroyed Sun's channel of distribution for that platform, is now taking advantage of its past antitrust violations to leverage its monopoly in the Intel-compatible PC market into the market for general purpose, Internet-enabled distributed computing platforms," he wrote.

Microsoft must nownclude Java with Windows. It must refrain from "disabling, uninstalling, substituting or diminishing any functionality ... of Java Runtime for Windows. Microsoft intends to appeal the ruling.

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