US Report: Sun out to crash Windows 98

Sun Microsystems will file two motions under seal in U.S. District Court seeking to force Microsoft to include its version of Java in Windows 98.

The two separate filings -- one alleging unfair competition and a second alleging copyright infringement -- are the latest attempts by Sun to keep an even playing field between Microsoft's version of Java and its own while a previous civil breach of contract case between the two companies proceeds through court.

In its motions, Sun will argue that because Windows 98 is such a massive distribution vehicle, the failure to include both versions of Java would be damaging, especially since the breach of contract case could take years to wind its way through the courts, according to sources close to Sun.

Therefore, Sun is requesting that the court order Microsoft to include both the Sun Java runtime as well as Microsoft's current Java implementation in both Windows 98 as well as all versions of Microsoft development tools, such as Visual Java++ 6.0.

Sun is not looking to block the shipment of Windows 98, the sources said.

The motions are currently under seal because they contain information obtained during discovery, which is confidential. However, the company is attempting to get the exhibits it claims will support its case for unfair competition unsealed, the sources said. That process could take up to 10 days.

The moves today come as both state attorneys general and the U.S. Department of Justice prepare to file separate actions against Microsoft under a broad range of antitrust charges, which could include the integration of Internet Explorer and Windows 98, Microsoft's extensions to Java as well as other alleged illegal practices.

Sun and Microsoft came to blows last fall after months of fighting. Sun sued Microsoft first for breach of contact, charging Microsoft with failing to include and support all features of the Java Development Kit. Microsoft in turn counter-sued Sun, accusing the latter with failing to deliver compatible upgrades of Java.

Sun won the first legal battle in March when a U.S. District Court Judge ruled in its favour and ordered Microsoft to remove the Java Compatible Logo from its products, both those currently on store shelves as well as future versions, until they passed compatibility tests as defined by Sun.

Tod Nielsen, Microsoft's general manager of developer relations, said that while it has not seen the suit, Sun did contact Microsoft last night to say it would be filing an add-on today to the current contract dispute litigation.

"Sun has known about our Java strategy and Windows 98 for a long time now," Nielsen said. "Why are they doing this three days before it is due to ship? What is so special about May 12, 1998? Why not do something six months ago?"

Windows 98 is expected to be released to OEMs on Friday. Neilsen said Microsoft's Java technology is the most compatible on the market today. He added that the contract between Sun and Microsoft includes a clause that prohibits either party from seeking injunctive relief.

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