Time for MS to Throw in the Java Towel?

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.