RealTime IT News

Judge Signals Support for Sun in Java Hearing

A federal judge made comments potentially favoring Sun Microsystems in its ongoing hearing with Microsoft expected to conclude Thursday.

The federal judge hearing the case, J. Frederick Motz, asked whether Sun would consider changing its request for a preliminary injunction to a permanent injunction that would force Microsoft to carry Sun's Java in future versions of its software. Judge Motz also suggested Sun ask for a damage claim of more than the $1 billion it is already requesting the court. Sun's lawyers said they are reviewing the suggestions by the judge.

In the federal appeals court recent ruling in the Microsoft antitrust case, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said that Microsoft's distribution of any older version of Java in its operating system wasn't anticompetitive. But Judge Motz seemed to disagree saying that "I would think having a non-compatible Java would be a detriment."

On Wednesday, Microsoft attorney Michael Lacovara offered into evidence an e-mail sent by Sun's Java inventor James Gosling to Sun vice president Richard Green pointing that Sun's problems with Java were part of its own making.

"We're really [screwing] up on the client side -- mostly through neglect," wrote Gosling to Green.

Lacovara put it another way, telling the court Wednesday that "whether or not Microsoft is 'acting unlawfully' as you put it, the Java platform is already fragmented due to the large number of Java run-time environments in the marketplace."

Lacovara continued using Sun's own PowerPoint presentation to indicate that its Java virtual machine lacked stability and a significant footprint, along with a lack of awareness about OEM product release schedules.

At issue is Java as a competitive platform to Microsoft's .NET framework, not only on the desktop where Microsoft has a dominant advantage, but also for the growing market for distributed computing over mobile phones, handheld devices and network servers.

At the hearing on Wednesday, Microsoft lawyer Michael Lacovara grilled Sun witness University of Chicago economics professor Dennis Carlton getting him to admit that Microsoft's dominance on the desktop doesn't necessarily extend to emerging wireless computing markets.

Chris Jones, Microsoft's vice president of its Windows Client Group, told the court Wednesday that forcing Windows to contain Java could cause Microsoft "significant harm." He claimed that Microsoft could be liable for problems with Java and there might not be a limit on the size of the Java program within Windows, which could have "unintended consequences on the rest of the operating system."