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Judge Gives Microsoft 120 Days to Put Sun Java in Windows, IE

U.S. District Judge Frederick Motz on Tuesday ordered Microsoft to include a Java Runtime Environment provided by Sun Microsystems in new copies of Windows XP and Internet Explorer within 120 days.

Anticipating an appeal from Microsoft, Motz stayed his own order by 14 days to Feb. 4 to allow Microsoft to pursue the matter with the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Motz also ordered Sun to put up a $25 million security within 10 days to cover Microsoft's costs in case his order is overturned.

Within 30 days of receiving a Sun Java Runtime Environment, Microsoft must also make it available as a "Recommended Update" via its update services that installs itself as the default Java client.

Sun quickly claimed victory in the dispute. "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," Lee Patch, vice president, strategic litigation, Sun Microsystems, said in a statement.

Motz originally announced his plan to force Microsoft to include Sun's JRE on Dec. 23. At the time, he ordered the two companies to bring him a plan for distributing the Java environment after the holidays. The companies responded earlier this month with dueling proposals.

Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler said the judge's order included concessions by both Microsoft and Sun. "Today's order really represents our effort to formulate a clear approach that will minimize, to the extent possible, adverse consequences to the industry," he said. "It's also important to note, that we've said all along, from Dec. 23 on, that we intend to appeal today's ruling. We have filed a notice of appeal this afternoon with the district court."

The issue grew out of Sun's private antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft in March. Based on the federal court's ruling that Microsoft violated antitrust laws, Sun is seeking to prove that Microsoft's anticompetitive behavior harmed Sun's Java technology and to get the court to award damages. The case is not expected to reach trial for about a year.

Motz says the legal measure to force Microsoft to include Sun's Java is needed to keep the market from tipping in favor of .NET instead of Java while the case drags through the courts.

"If .NET proves itself to be a better product than Java, it should -- and will -- predominate in the market for general purpose, Internet-enabled distributed computing platforms. But if that occurs, it should be because of .NET's superior qualities, not because Microsoft leveraged its PC monopoly to create market conditions in which it is unfairly advantaged," the judge wrote last month.

The fate of Microsoft's own Java Virtual Machine is uncertain. The technology is based on an outdated version of Java, pursuant to Microsoft's January 2001 agreement with Sun. Microsoft decided not to include the Microsoft JVM in Windows XP, but then offered it as a free download and included it in service packs. Sun claims the moves violated distribution clauses in the January 2001 agreement.

The judge's order on Tuesday prohibits Microsoft from offering the Microsoft JVM as a download or in a service pack. The judge does allow Microsoft to redistribute its JVM in case of security vulnerabilities or critical defects, a contingency that Sun's lawyers had opposed. In cases of JVM vulnerabilities, Sun wanted Microsoft to be forced to replace the Microsoft JVM with Sun's version.

The judge's order applies to future versions of Windows and IE, but it does not apply to server versions of Windows.

The 120-day period Microsoft has to begin shipping Windows and IE with Sun's JRE only applies to the English and German versions. Versions of Windows and IE in other languages have later deadlines, ranging up to 210 days.

Sun may provide Microsoft with up to two new versions of its JRE per year. Product support and translation into other languages will be Sun's responsibility.

Motz also specified that OEMs, enterprise licensees and retail customers will retain the right to remove Sun's JRE or change the default JRE.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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