Microsoft Settles With Sun

[24 January 2001] – Microsoft is paying Sun Microsystems US$20 million to settle a lawsuit initiated in 1997. In addition, Microsoft is banned from the unauthorized use of the JAVA COMPATIBLE trademark and has accepted Sun’s termination of the prior license agreement.

Sun has said it will continue to support existing Microsoft commercial products based on the outdated Java Development Kit (JDK) 1.1.4 platform for the next 7 years. The current version is JDK 1.3.

The issue resolved revolved around the coding language Java, popularized on its promise of “write once, run everywhere” the same code is promised to work on all operating systems because it is dynamically interpreted by the Java Virtual Machine within an operating system, instead of pre-compiled like, for example, C++. The language also supports a wide variety of hardware platforms, from servers to PCs to PDAs to Smart Cards.

Given the range of development options made available to those who learn the technology, and the fact that it’s free, many programmers have adopted the language: over 3 million versions of the Java 2 software development kit have been downloaded and Sun claims Java has between a 75%-90% share of the application server market.

In 1996 Microsoft obtained a license from Sun to use the Java technology, part of the license agreement being that Microsoft would deliver only compatible implementations of the technology.

According to Stefano Mattiello, Managing Director of Sun Microsystems South Africa Microsoft simply didn’t update it’s version, sticking to the JDK 1.1.4 version, and so ensuring Windows-only compatibility. An example of Microsoft’s “Embrace and Extend” philosophy

Mattiello said that Sun will continue to support the Windows operating system. Microsoft could regain their JAVA COMPATIBLE seal and a new licensing agreement, he says, but it is up to Microsoft to demonstrate trustworthiness and support the entire Java community.

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