Java Microsoft Settles with Sun

24-Jan-01 - Microsoft and Sun Microsystems settled their Java lawsuit. Both claim victory.





Microsoft is to pay Sun Microsystems $20 million. Microsoft is forbidden for all eternity from using the phrase "Java compliant", and is forbidden access to Sun's Java compliance testing programs. Microsoft is forbidden from participating in Java development. Microsoft is allowed to distribute the hopelessly obsolete version of Java currently packaged with its products for a period of 7 years. Microsoft's Java license is void.

Predictably, Microsoft declared victory.

Because Java-like capabilities are essential for Web based applications, Microsoft has been forced to develop an imitation Java called C#. They have just announced the "JUMP" toolkit to help software developers migrate their code from Java to C#.


Most observers are still underestimating the extent of the damage the Redmond giant has inflicted upon itself.

Java is the premier language for development of Web and Internet based applications, in fact, it is the premier programming language period. In help wanted ads, Java has passed by even Microsoft Visual Basic.

Microsoft is now permanently banned from all things Java by an enforcible agreement. Acceptance of C# is highly uncertain. Even within the hard core Windows development community Microsoft will probably have to force its acceptance.

How did this happen?

Microsoft saw the wild enthusiasm for Java within the programming community, especially it's multi-platform "write once, run anywhere" aspect, which threatened their Windows monopoly. Microsoft determined to kill Java.

The first step was to license Java from Sun Microsystems. The next step was to write J++, a "poluted" (their term) version that would run only on Windows, but run better on Windows than the compliant version. The third step was to include this "poluted" Java free with all their development tools and to strongly encourage its use.

Once Microsoft's vast Windows development community embraced "poluted Java", the standard version would be drowned out by sheer volume. Practically every magazine columnist and pundit joyfully announced that Microsoft had successfully killed Java.

What went wrong?

  • That Windows developers would embrace Java was simply misconceived. If a developer was interested in developing only for Windows s/he would chose a language that ran more efficiently on Windows than Java did.

  • Programmers who wished to use Java steered clear of the Microsoft version specifically because it would tie them to Windows and hold them at the mercy of Microsoft.

  • Some corporations, knowing about the "polution", simply refused to review or consider software written in J++. One developer reported a corporate IS chief simply handing back his product the moment he saw the Microsoft copyright on the startup screen.

  • Sun sued for violation of their license. They got injunctions because the Judge was confident Sun would win.
Microsoft's spin-masters are hard at work. Here's a prime example from InternetWeek. This article makes no sense because nothing is changed by the agreement. It simply makes official the conditions that have prevailed for nearly two years, and in that time Java has passed by all single platform programming languages.

Java isn't dead on Windows. Borland, IBM, Sun and others make Windows versions that are already more popular than Microsoft's J++. Lack of support from Microsoft makes little difference because even Microsoft considers Windows to be pretty much at the end of its run (see .NET).

True, "write once, run anywhere" isn't perfect, and may never be, but it's close enough to make porting quick and easy.

- Andrew Grygus

©:Andrew Grygus - Automation Access - -
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