Sun vs MS: Let's call the whole thing off Pt II

MS: Embrace and extend

Microsoft's embrace of Java and its plans to "extend" the Java platform have been hotly debated over the years. Many industry observers considered Microsoft's J++ to be a solid language and Microsoft's Java Virtual Machine to be the best VM implementation on Windows.

But when Microsoft decided against supporting some of Sun's Java platform components, and then -- adding insult to injury -- added its own set of Java class libraries to the Microsoft Java implementation, Sun slapped Microsoft with a contract-compliance lawsuit.

In May of this year, judge Ronald Whyte ruled that Microsoft did not violate Sun's Java copyright and agreed with Microsoft that Sun must deliver technology for Microsoft's current Java Virtual Machine. Whyte is not slated to decide until trial whether Microsoft can "independently develop" Java technology and incorporate it into Microsoft products. For now, Microsoft is bound under a preliminary injunction to support Sun's Java technology in its products, pending trial.

When asked whether Microsoft had any plans to simply drop the Java suit with Sun, since Microsoft seemingly has no plans to support Java any longer, Microsoft spokesman Cullinan said that, since Sun filed the suit, Microsoft has no say-so in that matter. A Sun spokesperson said that Sun always has been open to settlement discussions.

At the same time, Sun officials maintained that Sun does not see C# as a threat to Java.

"Two years ago, it [C#] would have been a bigger threat, but now Java is the number one programming language for building Internet application systems," said Anne Thomas Manes, director of market innovation at Sun Software. "It's so well-entrenched. We're not worried about losing Java developers to C#."

"There's nothing spectacularly new with C#. It's a nice language and a very reasonable Java alternative," Manes continued. "But if you've been developing with Java for the last two or three years, you have no incentive to go to C#."

Meanwhile, Microsoft is making a big marketing push to get C# into developers' hands. The company has already sent out about 200,000 test versions of Visual Studio.Net to developers and will ship to developers an additional 500,000 copies in January.

Greg DeMichillie, group program manager for C#, said Microsoft's.Net strategy will allow existing Microsoft software developers to build Net-based applications without having to learn a new language, such as Java.

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