RealTime IT News

Developers Cheer Java Lawsuit Ruling

Web developers Wednesday were cheering a judge's backing of claims by Sun Microsystems Inc. that Microsoft Corp. used an incompatible variation of Java in its products.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte of San Jose, Calif., said Sun was "likely to prevail on the merits" of its lawsuit over the Java programming language. Whyte also issued a preliminary injunction barring Microsoft from selling products that include Java until it brings its Java code in compliance with Sun's.

The order means Microsoft cannot ship Windows 98 and Internet Explorer 4.0 in 90 days unless it modifies the code. The order does not affect products that have already been shipped.

Rick Ross, head of the Java Lobby, said the ruling would give Java a huge boost.

"It will give confidence to many people that might not have been putting as much energy as they want into Java because they feared Microsoft's efforts to pollute Java would become successful. While Microsoft may not (introduce) any new features, at least they will not be allowed to prevent Java from moving forward as a platform-neutral technology," he said.

Todd Nielsen, Microsoft's director of Java relations, downplayed the ruling's impact.

"Though we're disappointed, the overall outcome is focused on a technical nit. We just have to add another way to write native code. I think when people look at our native interface and the one Sun is proposing, they will realize our native interface is faster, more powerful and functional than the one Sun provides," he said.

While Sun's case has been overshadowed by the federal government's antitrust case against Microsoft, one antitrust lawyer predicts Whyte's preliminary injunction will help the government in that case.

"It will serve as a blueprint for the Justice Department in its efforts to persuade Judge Jackson that Microsoft has behaved anticompetitively with regard to this important, cross-platform technology," said Richard Gray, attorney at Bergeson, Eliopoulos, Grady and Gray.

"If I were Judge Jackson, I would read this opinion with great interest and invite the government to give me the necessary proof so I could make the same findings as Judge Whyte in my lawsuit," he said.