advertising information
   personal technology

 custom news
 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

CNN Websites
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines

 message boards





Users say market, not court, will decide Java winner


January 28, 1999
Web posted at: 12:36 p.m. EST (1736 GMT)

by Kim S. Nash

(IDG) -- After 15 months of courtroom bickering between Sun Microsystems Inc. and Microsoft Corp. over the Java programming language, users are impatient but haven't slowed their Java plans. Users -- not a judge -- will decide which vendor ultimately "wins" the Java race, they said.

"With the amount of investment companies have made [in Java], whether Sun or Microsoft wins [in court] is inconsequential. The market will decide," said Manu Kumar (, the founder of PittJUG, a Java user group in Pittsburgh.

U.S District Judge Ronald Whyte has said Sun is likely to win the case as a whole. Yet the lawsuit shows no signs of coming to an end. No trial date has been set, and several other items in the case remain unresolved.

  Computerworld's home page
 Computerworld Year 2000 resource center
 Computerworld's online subscription center
 Reviews & in-depth info at's personal news page
  Questions about computers? Let's editors help you
  Search in 12 languages
  Subscribe to's free daily newsletter for IT leaders
 News Radio
 * Computerworld Minute
 * Fusion audio primers

For example, Whyte last month asked Sun and Microsoft to hold a mediation conference to try to come to terms on at least one narrow issue: Microsoft's compliance with Sun's Java Native Interface. But the vendors have yet to agree on who should mediate, never mind when to meet.

Sun sued Microsoft for allegedly breaking its Java contract by writing language extensions that can run only on Windows.

So far, Sun has won two key rulings: Last March, Microsoft had to stop using the Java logo, and in November, Microsoft was ordered to revamp its Java products to comply with Sun's specifications (see chart). Microsoft is gradually redoing some products. Last week, it made available a free service pack for Visual Studio that it claims brings the tool kit into compliance. But Microsoft has appealed the November order, arguing the judge made several legal mistakes and misread the Java license agreement.

A Microsoft spokesman noted that "these are preliminary orders, not final rulings. Microsoft must have the right to innovate and improve our products."

No settlement seen

The chance that Microsoft will settle the case "is about as likely as Bill Clinton resigning," said Cynthia Jeness (, an officer at the Atlanta Java Users Group.

Mike Morris, Sun's general counsel, said he's "very happy" with how the case has gone so far.

The legal dispute to date hasn't deterred Java users, nor will it, observers said.

Information technology programmers are more likely than third-party developers to use Microsoft's Windows-specific extensions, said Ron Rappaport, an analyst at Zona Research Inc. in Redwood City, Calif. That's because their companies often dictate which products they can use.

"Businesspeople are so concerned with safety, and going with Microsoft is like how going with IBM was in late 1970s," Jeness said.

That's the case for PittJUG members Aluminum Company of America and Mellon Bank Corp., Kumar said.

At Service Merchandise Co. Inc. in Brentwood, Tenn., programmers mainly use Java tools from NetDynamics Inc., which Sun acquired in July. But the retailer also employs some Microsoft products "to keep [us] familiar with both" approaches, said Robin Solomon, manager of PC application development.

The suit hasn't stopped many users from buying Java tools -- Microsoft's or otherwise, Rappaport said. And even if Microsoft loses to Sun and is found to have sold tools that violate its Java contract, Microsoft customers aren't going to rewrite applications built with the offending products, he said. "The reality is, [IT people] can't reverse-engineer a year's worth of development simply because a court makes a decision," he said.

Related stories:
Latest Headlines

Today on CNN

Related stories:

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window Related sites:

External sites are not
endorsed by CNN Interactive.

Enter keyword(s)   go    help


Back to the top
© 2000 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.