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Microsoft, Sun to Talk Interop

Microsoft and Sun are scheduled to talk about their platform compatibility, spokespersons with both companies said Monday.

It's been eight months since the companies celebrated the end of their legal war with a landmark $1.9 billion settlement of long-running charges against Microsoft involving Java.

Sun had charged that Microsoft "deceptively modified Java APIs" in a beta version of the Microsoft Software Development Kit for Java by "adding Win32-specific and other APIs to the Java class libraries." The result, Sun's lawsuit said, effectively caused developers to believe they were achieving cross-platform interoperability between Java-based and Microsoft platforms.

As part of the settlement, Sun promised to work with Microsoft on interoperability. In a conference call scheduled for this Wednesday, Sun CTO Greg Papadopoulos and a yet to be determined vice president with Microsoft will update press and analysts on their progress so far.

Details of those accomplishments are a closely guarded secret. A Sun spokesperson said the two companies would not mention any advancement focused on compatibility between Microsoft's Active Directory and Sun Java Enterprise LDAP Directory. The call is also not expected to include mention of development between each company's single-sign-on Web service .

Microsoft' Bill Gates, who has been working with Papadopoulos and a small team of engineers, was supposed to be on the call, but will not be making an appearance, a Sun rep told internetnews.com last week.

"It is really sort of a progress report, and this is just preparation for the future," Microsoft representative Jim Desler told internetnews.com. The two companies had promised some type of update before the end of the year.

Already some progress has been made. At the time of the April announcement, Sun signed a license for the Windows desktop operating system communications protocols under Microsoft's Communications Protocol Program. Microsoft said it would continue to provide product support for existing Microsoft Java Virtual Machine in its products. Sun and Microsoft announced Windows certification for Sun's Xeon servers and said they would move forward in the Windows certification process for Sun's Opteron-based servers.

At Sun's Solaris 10 launch earlier this month, McNealy commented that Microsoft and Sun were working on technology that would benefit both data centers and the desktop.

The CEO hesitantly commented at the time that the integration project is "more complicated and detailed and extensive than I thought they were going to do."

McNealy also hinted this past summer that Gates and Papadopoulos were making StarOffice "even more interoperable" with Microsoft Office. Other important goals of the 10-year pact include improving interoperability between the Java Desktop System and Windows, improving interoperability between Solaris and Windows servers, and bringing the company's respective Web services architectures, .NET and Java Web Services, into closer alignment.