Sun sues Microsoft over JDK 1.1 abuse

Sun today pulled the trigger on Microsoft, slapping down a lawsuit that accuses the Redmond, Washington company of breaking agreements relating to its Java licensing contract. The firm will seek unspecified damages as well as an injunction to make Microsoft stop issuing misleading statements, and will revoke Microsoft's right to use the 'Java-compatible' logo.

Sun today pulled the trigger on Microsoft, slapping down a lawsuit that accuses the Redmond, Washington company of breaking agreements relating to its Java licensing contract. The firm will seek unspecified damages as well as an injunction to make Microsoft stop issuing misleading statements, and will revoke Microsoft's right to use the 'Java-compatible' logo.

Specifically, Sun is objecting to Microsoft's alleged refusal in Internet Explorer 4.0 to abide by the Java Development Kit (JDK) 1.1 reference. This relates to an alleged alteration of the Java Native Interface (JNI) virtual machine interface that lets developers access native code on the operating system, and the Remote Method Invocation (RMI) interface that lets Java programs communicate between different computer platforms. Sun hasn't yet said it will revoke Microsoft's Java licence but said it will withhold ongoing Java development code and documentation from Microsoft until a resolution has been found.

"For the past six months, Microsoft has publicly refused to stick by the terms of its contract," said Alan Baratz, president of Sun's JavaSoft division. "Last week, Microsoft went beyond the spirit of the law and into the letter of the law when it shipped Internet Explorer 4.0. We have worked very diligently and have offered numerous solutions. Rather than comply, Microsoft has embarked on another direction [to] break cross-platform technologies. Some might think [the resulting code is] still Java, but it only works on Windows."

Baratz said Microsoft's recent behaviour "had been egregious enough ... but what we found [in compatibility testing] was much, much worse" and amounted to tricking developers into creating Windows-only programs instead of embracing the "write once, run anywhere" openness of true Java.

He described Microsoft's behaviour as "a major disservice to the other 116 Java licensees [and] developers who expect Java programs to run anywhere".

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