MS on Java: We talked tough, so what?

The long-simmering rivalry over Java has re-emerged as a central element in the Microsoft antitrust trial.

Bob Muglia, a senior vice president with Microsoft who is expected to take the stand on Friday, accused rival Sun Microsystems of inhibiting competition by limiting the ability of developers to modify Java.

In a 63-page deposition, Muglia returns to several of the issues at dispute in separate litigation between the two companies. Sun has sued Microsoft for breaching its Java licensing contract, charging its rival with building an implementation of Java that failed to comply with Sun's compatibility tests. Muglia also defended Microsoft against the Department of Justice's charges that it hindered innovation and competition.

He said the so-called "write once, run everywhere" promise of Java has failed to live up to promises because of inherent problems with cross-platform programming and because Sun did not supply the right technology to developers. A spokeswoman for Sun dismissed the testimony as a recycle of familiar charges by Microsoft, saying, "It's more important to look at what the judge says than what Muglia says."

But in a change of tack from previous Microsoft witnesses, Muglia also allowed that company executives have at time resorted to storm-the-ramparts rhetoric when it came to Sun and Java -- but that there's nothing illegal about that. "Microsoft's use of terms such as 'polluted Java' and 'kill cross-platform Java' is simply competitive rhetoric by people who were competing vigorously against Sun," he said. "Sun used the term 'pure Java' as a marketing slogan, and internally Microsoft sarcastically referred to anything other than pure Java as 'polluted Java.' "

Muglia is the last scheduled Microsoft witness to testify before the court goes into recess.

Take me to the DoJ/Microsoft page.