Microsoft's Java Deadline Starts Ticking

Judge orders software giant to offer Sun's version of Java in Windows XP, in certain Web browsers, and as a download on its site.

Grant Gross
IDG News Service

January 21, 2003

WASHINGTON -- The final judge's order requiring Microsoft to distribute Sun Microsystems' version of Java gives Microsoft a deadline of 120 days after February 4 to include Sun's Java with all versions of Windows XP and with all Web browsers that include .Net functionality.

U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Motz of Baltimore delayed his order until February 4 so Microsoft could appeal his decision.

Motz also ordered Microsoft to start offering as a download Sun's Java Runtime Environment as a recommended update within 30 days of Sun giving Microsoft an updated copy of its version of Java. That 30-day download deadline was Microsoft's suggestion.

Middle Ground

Motz's Tuesday order incorporates suggestions from both Sun and Microsoft on how to comply with his December 23 ruling requiring Microsoft to carry Sun's version of Java in its products. Sun had asked Motz to set a deadline of 90 days, and Microsoft had asked for up to 180 days to comply.

Motz ruled Microsoft would have 120 days to comply with his December 23 injunction requiring Microsoft to offer to its customers Sun's version of its Java Virtual Machine. The two sides argued in court last Wednesday over the details of the "must-carry" Java order, but they delivered an agreement to Motz on Monday. Sun had requested the preliminary injunction as part of its multimillion-dollar private antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft.

Sun lawyers argue that Microsoft used its monopoly power in the operating-system market to flood the developer market with versions of Java that aren't compatible with Sun's Java. The "must-carry" order is necessary, they argue, because Sun's Java is losing ground to Microsoft's competing .Net development framework while developer confusion over Java persists.

Unprecedented Decision?

Microsoft lawyers have argued that Sun's own decisions hurt Java and that Motz's order to carry a competing product is unprecedented in antitrust law.

Microsoft spokesperson Jim Desler noted that the company worked with Sun lawyers to craft an agreement on the order even as his company plans an appeal.

"We worked together to formulate a clear approach that we hope will minimize disruptions and adverse circumstances," Desler said. "Microsoft will take the steps necessary to comply with the court's order, to make Sun's Java technology available to users while we pursue this appeal."

As Sun had asked, Motz's order also prohibits Microsoft from carrying a version of the JRE that's incompatible with Sun's version. But the judge noted that third-party computer makers are allowed to decide for themselves whether to carry Sun's Java.

Reasonable Response

Sun is required to support its version of Java in Microsoft products, and Sun must provide a "reasonable response" to any request from Microsoft for information and engineering assistance. Sun must also provide a "reasonable notification" of any security vulnerabilities in its Java, although Microsoft asked for immediate notification.

"If Microsoft believes that Sun has not satisfied any condition...Microsoft shall nonetheless continue to comply with all its obligations under this Order and shall promptly notify Sun in writing of the specific details in which Microsoft contends that Sun's performance is deficient," Motz wrote. Sun then has 60 days to fix the problem, and if it doesn't, Microsoft can ask the court for changes to the order.

Motz's order also requires Sun to provide a $25 million security for payment of Microsoft's costs and damages if his order is overturned. Sun had asked for $15 million, and Microsoft had originally asked for $125 million.

"Sun is grateful to the Court for its thorough review of the issues and its speedy implementation of this important Order," Lee Patch, vice president of strategic litigation for Sun, said in a statement. "This preliminary injunction is a huge victory for consumers who will soon have the best, latest Java technology on their PCs. It is also a victory for enterprises and for the worldwide Java Community of developers and system vendors."

Copyright IDG


Judge sets plan for Java in Windows

By Declan McCullagh
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

Published: January 21, 2003, 9:39 AM PST

A federal judge in Baltimore on Tuesday set a schedule that Microsoft must meet for including Sun Microsystems' Java programming language with its Windows operating system.

The decision by U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz had been expected after the judge ruled on Dec. 23 that Sun stood a good chance of winning its antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft and told both sides to craft a preliminary injunction. Teams of lawyers from the companies worked through the weekend and handed the proposed order to Motz on Monday.

In the 11-page order, Motz gave Sun what it requested when filing the lawsuit: an injunction ordering Microsoft immediately to stop distributing incompatible versions of Sun's Java interpreter and to begin shipping authorized versions with Windows and Internet Explorer in four months. The injunction will remain in effect until a trial takes place or an appeals court lifts the requirements.

"This preliminary injunction is a huge victory for consumers who will soon have the best, latest Java technology on their PCs," Lee Patch, Sun's vice president for strategic litigation, said Tuesday. "It is also a victory for enterprises and for the worldwide Java community of developers and system vendors."

Microsoft said it would likely file its appeal to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this week and ask the higher court to place Motz's injunction on hold until the case can be heard. "We do not agree that Sun's entitled to its injunction, and we will appeal the injunction as indicated," said Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler.

The Java language lets programs run without alterations on a variety of computers. Because a Java program can run, for instance, on a mainframe from IBM, a Unix server from Sun and a Windows PC from Dell Computer, it represents a threat to Microsoft.

Part of Tuesday's order says that, effective immediately, Microsoft may no longer distribute "any product that includes any copy of Microsoft's Virtual Machine for Java other than" software licensed from Sun. In general, it also prevents Microsoft from distributing its own Java interpreter in future products except as necessary to fix "critical security vulnerabilities or critical customer defects." Shipments of Windows XP will not be affected.

However, because Microsoft has indicated it would appeal, Motz said that Tuesday's order would not actually take effect for 14 days.

Motz's order also gives Microsoft 120 days to include Sun's Java runtime environment in every copy of Windows and Internet Explorer it sells. For versions of Windows in languages other than English, Microsoft need not include Sun's software until it receives a localized version.

Microsoft must also "notify customers via any and all Microsoft update services" that the latest Java software is available and "refrain from disabling" Java, the order says. The software giant said it did not immediately know Windows XP users would be notified.

Sun has pinned much of its hopes on a June 2001 ruling in the antitrust case brought by the U.S. Justice Department and some state attorneys general. In that decision, a federal appeals court ruled that Microsoft had illegally tried to maintain its operating system monopoly in an attempt to eradicate competitive products such as Java and Netscape's Web browser.

In October, Motz indicated that he would allow Sun to use some of those earlier legal conclusions in the current lawsuit. No trial date has been set, and legal experts believe it might not happen until 2004.

Sun's case also builds on a previous legal assault on its rival, which began in October 1997 and alleged that Microsoft violated its license agreement by distributing incompatible versions of Java and deceptively promoted those versions as compatible. The two companies settled in January 2001, with Microsoft agreeing to pay Sun $20 million.

Much of Sun's current case relies on predictions, saying that if Microsoft had not wielded its market power so ruthlessly, Java would have been more successful. "But for Microsoft's unlawful fragmentation of the Java platform and its unlawful attack on the distribution of the Navigator and Java platforms, the installed base of these alternative platforms would have been far greater today," Sun said in court documents.

Sun argues that Microsoft is now trying to supplement--or even replace--its Windows monopoly by encouraging developers to write code for the .Net platform instead. In addition, Sun says, "Microsoft has refused to port Office to competing platforms in order to illegally maintain its monopoly" and to force consumers to purchase products such as Microsoft's Exchange Server, Internet Information Server and SQL Server.


Copyright 2003 CNET Networks, Inc.