A judge has given Microsoft a reprieve from an order that required it to begin including Sun Microsystems’ Java software with its Windows operating system by the end of April.
But even though the stay buys Microsoft some time and virtually guarantees that its epic legal battle with Sun will continue, Microsoft said it has already drawn up a plan to begin integrating Java if it is unable to completely overturn the order.
In addition to making Java’s run-time environment available for download as a Windows update, Microsoft said it would distribute Java to PC makers and license holders on CD-ROM and would ship additional Windows XP service packs later in the year carrying a newer version of Java.
Microsoft said it also intends to wrap updated Java into next-generation iterations of Windows, such as the Longhorn version now in development and slated to hit the market in 2004.
Now or Later?
The decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, which freezes an order handed down last month, buys Microsoft time to seek a complete overturn of the order. The proceedings are part of Sun’s US$1 billion antitrust lawsuit, which claims Microsoft used its monopolistic power in the desktop environment to squelch use of Java.
However, Gartner research analyst David Smith told the E-Commerce Times that Sun’s victories so far in the legal battle likely will not have any major impact on the marketplace, and that Microsoft will not suffer greatly even if forced to comply with the order in full.
“Microsoft is well positioned to compete against Java with .NET,” Smith said, noting that the software maker already has begun to draft plans for Java integration. “Sun has chalked up some victories, but mostly they’re too little and too late to make a dent in Microsoft’s dominance of the desktop environment.”
On the other hand, Smith said he believes that if the Java requirement stands, Sun will see some benefit among customers who use Java applets and other application-writing features of the software.
Time of the Essence
Indeed, Forrester Research principal analyst Frank Gillett told the E-Commerce Times that Sun’s victories in the lawsuit — such as the initial ruling that Microsoft must include Java support in Windows — seem to reflect a belief that if Microsoft is allowed to press forward with its .NET initiative, even an eventual victory by Sun might come too late to undo any competitive damage.
“The judge’s decision basically said that time matters in a case like this, that it’s a lot easier to prevent damage than to find a way to fix it later,” Gillett said. “Now, the appeals court is saying it matters for Microsoft as well.”
The issue of the injunction will likely be resolved quickly as a result, he added.In fact, Microsoft’s willingness to draft a plan to reintroduce Sun’s Java back into Windows may help tip the scales in favor of the stay being lifted quickly.
Neither Microsoft nor Sun could immediately be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, Microsoft was apparently the target of a fake press release Monday, which claimed that the software giant had acquired the video game assets of media conglomerate Vivendi Universal. The page was reportedly traced to Purdue University in Indiana.
“Any purported press release or news story appearing on a Web site is a hoax,” Microsoft said in a statement. “As is consistent with our corporate policy, Microsoft does not comment on rumors or speculation about rumored acquisitions or negotiations.”