Sun Asks Court to Put Java Into Windows

Citing federal ruling, Sun seeks injunction preserving Java plug-in while private antitrust cases unfurl.

Marc Ferranti
IDG News Service

December 02, 2002

Microsoft and Sun Microsystems are scheduled to face off in a Baltimore federal court this week over whether Microsoft should be forced to distribute a Sun-authorized version of Java with Windows.

The arguments are part of pretrial motions in Sun's private antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft. In the case opening on Tuesday, Sun is asking the court for a preliminary injunction on the Java issue. In effect, it wants U.S. District Judge Frederick Motz to require Microsoft to distribute Sun's own Java plug-in for Windows XP with every copy of Windows and Internet Explorer, pending the final outcome of the lawsuit.

Sun filed its lawsuit in March. It charges that Microsoft used its monopoly in PC operating systems to thwart acceptance of Java.

Microsoft added the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) into Windows XP through the Service Pack released earlier this year, but has said Java will not be part of future versions of the OS.

Federal Ruling Cited

In its pretrial motions, Sun argues that Microsoft has attempted to fragment the Java platform by distributing its own Virtual Machine for Java, which is incompatible with Sun's Java development products.

However, Microsoft points out that in November, in her ruling on remedies in the U.S. government's antitrust case against Microsoft, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly struck down a similar request to include Java with Windows. Nine states and the District of Columbia were pressing for harsher remedies than the terms of a settlement between Microsoft and the U.S. Department of Justice. Kollar-Kotelly issued a ruling on remedies that largely accepted the settlement's terms.

Kollar-Kotelly rejected the Java remedy as "not good for competition, and consequently, not good for consumers," said Jim Desler, a Microsoft spokesperson. "It gives a court-sanctioned, specific advantage to Sun, and there are other Java virtual machines out there. Not only does it circumvent competition with Microsoft, but it circumvents competition with other companies."

However, District Court rulings in the government's case might work against Microsoft. Motz has already indicated that private plaintiffs may use some of the findings in the U.S. case for their lawsuits. One of the findings in the U.S. case was that Microsoft is a monopoly that used its power to thwart competition.

In addition, two of the holdout states, Massachusetts and West Virginia, are appealing Kollar-Kotelly's ruling. Massachusetts Friday said it would appeal, and West Virginia Monday said it would join Massachusetts.

Choosing Sides

This week's hearing before Motz is expected to continue through Thursday. Sun said its witnesses will be Rich Green, a Sun vice president; Rick Ross, Javalobby founder and president; and Dennis Carlton, an economist.

Microsoft said its witnesses will be Chris Jones, vice president of Microsoft's Windows Client Group; Andrew Layman, director of the company's XML Web services standards; Sanjay Parthasarathy, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Platform Strategy Group; and Kevin Murphy, an economist.

Though Sun filed its suit in U.S. District Court in San Jose, California, the venue for the trial has been moved to Baltimore. There, Motz is coordinating and presiding over a number of private antitrust cases as well as numerous class-action lawsuits that have been filed against Microsoft.

The Sun case and other private cases are not expected to go to trial until late in 2003, according to Desler. Motz will also hear private lawsuits filed by Be, AOL Time Warner (owner of Netscape), and The companies seek billions of dollars in damages and a variety of remedies rejected by Kollar-Kotelly, including, for example, the unbundling of the Internet Explorer Web browser from Windows.

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