Appeals Court Stays Java Ruling

A federal appeals court on Monday stayed a district court judge's order for Microsoft to distribute Sun's Java Runtime Environment with Windows XP.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit temporarily rejected U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz' order in a two-page document that included no comment or context. The appeals court entered its stay of the Motz' order after financial markets closed on Monday.

Motz had entered his order on Jan. 21 and gave Microsoft a 14-day temporary stay to allow Microsoft to file an appeal. Motz had ordered Microsoft to distribute Sun's Java client in English and German versions of Windows XP within 120 days, with other language versions following shortly after that.

As rationale, Motz said that the market was in danger of "tipping" in favor of Microsoft's .NET rather than Sun's Java before Sun's private antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft could be heard. Among Microsoft's counterarguments was the assertion that Microsoft wouldn't distribute its .NET Framework as part of the operating system until the next version shipped in late 2004.

Earlier on Monday, Microsoft had posted a letter to customers outlining the steps it was taking in response to the now-stayed order. Microsoft has not yet updated that page, which includes a link to a version 1A of the Windows XP Service Pack. That version of the service pack sought to comply with the part of the judge's order that Microsoft no longer distribute its Java client, the Microsoft JVM, in service packs.

Sun and Microsoft have jointly requested an expedited briefing schedule for the appeal.

In a statement, Sun vice president for legal affairs, Lee Patch, said, "We regret the 4th Circuit Court's decision. The preliminary injunctions granted by the District Court will benefit consumers and the Java Community's developers, enterprises and system vendors. We will work actively to ensure that the earliest possible date is set for the appellate hearing. We look forward to demonstrating the merits of District Court's decision when the appeal is heard."

About the Author

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


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