How important is Microsofts ability to bundle technologies into its Windows operating system? Crucial, and its not just Microsoft that thinks so.
As Microsoft asked a federal appeals court to reconsider a charge that it had illegally "commingled" its Internet Explorer browser code with its monopoly-making operating system last week, Microsoft said it would not distribute the software needed to run Java applications in its upcoming OS, Windows XP.
Windows XP users who want to run Java-based applications will need to download a plug-in to the OS that Microsoft said will be available on its Web site, or obtain the software — known as the Java Virtual Machine (VM) — through other sources. Without it, XP users will not be able to view pages containing Java applications, and the announcement prompted an outcry among Java supporters.
In a widely distributed "open letter" to major PC makers, Clay Shirky of OReilly & Associates urged Compaq Computer, Dell Computer, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and others to endorse a petition demanding that the VM remain part of XP. Shirky, partner for technology and product strategy of The Accelerator Group, also asked that the companies include the latest version of VM on the PCs they ship, and he called Microsofts decision a "terrible blow to the computing ecosystem."
For its part, Microsoft said it made a "business decision" not to include VM. A court ruled last year that Microsoft violated the terms of its license agreement with Java creator Sun Microsystems by trying to modify the Java language.
Meanwhile, Microsoft asked the appeals court to reconsider its ruling that Microsofts commingling of its browser and OS code was "anticompetitive" and violated antitrust law. That ruling could affect the future of Windows XP, within which Microsoft plans to include a number of applications. In addition, Microsoft said in court papers that it may ask the Supreme Court to review the appeals court ruling.
Meanwhile, Microsoft reported record revenue of $25.3 billion for the year ended June 30, 2001 — a 10 percent increase. But Microsoft warned that profit and revenue may dip below estimates in the current quarter.