Time for MS to Throw in the Java Towel?

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2003-04-17 Print this article Print

Now that client-side Java has foundered, why is Microsoft still struggling with Sun over its implementation? Maybe MS should just ship the Sun VM and let it be someone else's problem, opines Security Supersite Editor Larry Seltzer.

There was a time when Microsofts objectives toward Java were relatively clear. Security was always a priority in the Java VM, but security issues were basically theoretical. In the past few years, though, Microsofts Java VM has stagnated under an agreement with Sun, and the only news we hear about it is when yet another security hole is found.

The latest legal stupidity between the companies has been Suns civil antitrust case against Microsoft, in which Sun was awarded an injunction, immediately stayed by court and under scrutiny by an appeals court, ordering Microsoft to ship Suns Java VM with Windows.

Personally, I find this order to be legally moronic, and I have a hard time believing that it will ever go into effect, but it and the latest flaw in the Microsoft VM got me thinking: Why is Microsoft fighting back on this point? Why not just ship the Sun VM and let it be Suns problem? Microsofts agreement with Sun prohibits the company from even providing security fixes for the Microsoft VM after Jan. 2, 2004, and if forced to ship Suns VM, Microsoft would clearly (and quite reasonably) be under no obligation to support it.

Im sure that Microsoft is concerned to some extent about disrupting the operations of customers who have come to rely on its VM, but the company cant be all that concerned. Its been clear for some time that Microsoft wants to withdraw the VM altogether, and what could be more disruptive than that? Anyone who relies on the Microsoft VM and has not yet made sure that their apps run on the Sun VM deserves whatever they get. Even Microsoft warns users not to keep using its VM.

Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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