Is Microsoft Attacking Sun or Protecting Consumers? Page 2

But Yankee Group Analyst Neal Goldman said Microsoft's decision to discontinue support for Java likely has more to do with the settlement the company reached with Sun earlier this year than with an attempt to further hurt Sun.

Microsoft agreed in January to pay Sun 0 million to settle a lawsuit initiated in 1997. The lawsuit stemmed from an agreement the two companies made in 1996, when Microsoft obtained a license from Sun to use the Java technology, with the stipulation that Microsoft would deliver only compatible implementations of the technology. Following the agreement, Microsoft used the Java Development Kit (JDK) 1.1.4, a version that had long been superceded, thus ensuring Windows-only compatibility.

As part of the settlement, Sun gave Microsoft the right to continue using the outdated JDK for seven years, though Microsoft made no commitment to do so.

"It comes down to the settlement agreement," Goldman said. "On the one hand, you could say, 'gee, Microsoft is attempting to keep people from using Java on Windows and this is sort of an exclusionary tactic.' I think that's probably not true. Because of the settlement agreement with Sun, they can't ship current or new versions of Java. If my choices were to ship nothing or an old version, I would ship nothing."

Goldman also noted that the decision to block Java on high security settings shouldn't affect the Java development community to any great degree because most companies now shy away from client-side Java. Client-side Java applications, which run on a user's machine and are the type Windows XP's high security setting would block, must be downloaded by the user. Often those downloads are quite large.

"The vast majority of real, pure Java programming is occurring on the server," Goldman said. Server-side Java would not be blocked by Windows XP's settings. "More client-side stuff is done either in JavaScript or dynamic HTML or VBScript," Goldman continued. "Making [Windows XP] more secure on client-side Java I don't think really impacts Java development on the whole."

Neither Microsoft nor Sun were available for comment as of this writing.

More to come...

This article was originally published on Jul 18, 2001
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