By Rachel Chalmers Microsoft Corp has responded angrily to Sun Microsystems Inc’s claims that it willfully breached its Java Technology Licensing and Distribution Agreement (CI No 3,770). Sun’s position that we ship incompatible versions of Java is just ridiculous, spokesperson Jim Cullinan told ComputerWire. The fact is that 100% Pure Java applications run better on […]
By Rachel Chalmers
Microsoft Corp has responded angrily to Sun Microsystems Inc’s claims that it willfully breached its Java Technology Licensing and Distribution Agreement (CI No 3,770). Sun’s position that we ship incompatible versions of Java is just ridiculous, spokesperson Jim Cullinan told ComputerWire. The fact is that 100% Pure Java applications run better on our virtual machine than they do on Sun’s. Cullinan maintains that the ongoing lawsuit between Sun and Microsoft is not about whether Java should be a cross-platform technology. Rather, he says, Sun is trying to dictate how Microsoft writes platform-specific applications in Java. Sun is trying to control competition, he said. They are trying to make Windows obsolete.
Sun’s three main allegations concerned whether or not Microsoft has shipped non-compliant Java technology since US District Court Judge Ronald Whyte imposed an injunction prohibiting it from doing so, back in November 1998. Sun’s lawyers claimed that Microsoft has engaged in false advertising, has failed to make earlier versions of its products compliant with Sun’s Java test suites, and has encouraged its partners to ship non-compliant products. Cullinan replied that what Sun calls false advertising was a white paper Microsoft posted on its web site. He added that the white paper was removed when Sun employees questioned the technical information contained in it. Anyone can argue that a white paper is not advertising, he said.
As for failing to make earlier products compliant, Cullinan said all this means is that users who download IE 5 can opt not to download the Java virtual machine (JVM). Those who don’t download the IE 5 JVM will indeed be left with non-compliant technology, but Cullinan says Microsoft will not force those people to accept the upgrade. As for Microsoft encouraging its partners to ship non-compliant Java, Cullinan insists that the products in question were developed in a clean room and contain no Sun technology at all. [Sun CEO Scott] McNealy may go out and say that Java is an open standard, but Sun’s legal team shows its true colors, Cullinan insisted, it’s Sun’s way or no way.
Sun’s allegations were made in support of its bid to have Judge Whyte’s injunction reinstated. In August 1999, an appeals court overturned the injunction. The decision was a complex one. While the court agreed with Whyte that Sun is likely to prevail on the merits of its case, it also asked Whyte to explain why he invoked the presumption of irreparable harm, which applies to copyright infringement cases. Microsoft has long argued that the case is at worst a breach of contract – in which case the damages awarded to Sun will be substantially less.