Sun Declares Victory

Microsoft settles Java suit, pursues its own strategy

Microsoft has agreed to pay Sun Microsystems $20 million to settle their lawsuit and will send its Java license back to Sun headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif.

"Its pretty simple," said Sun Chief Executive Scott McNealy after the settlement was announced. "This is a victory for our Java licensees."

The settlement, in which Microsoft admitted no wrongdoing, "confirms once and for all that Microsoft is not going to be allowed to pollute Java to make it Windows-proprietary," said John Keiger, director of marketing at BEA Systems, which makes the WebLogic Java application server.

The $20 million represents "a fraction of what Microsoft would have paid its attorneys to continue the suit," said Rob Enderle, an analyst at the Giga Information Group. While Sun declared victory, Microsoft launched its JUMP strategy for migrating Windows developers from its J++ development tool to its rudimentary C# (C Sharp) language and other Internet-oriented, Microsoft.Net technologies.

Under the terms of the settlement, Microsoft is frozen at the outdated Java release 1.1.4 level that was in place when Sun filed suit on Oct. 7, 1997. Under the terms of the settlement, Microsoft may continue to offer its Visual J++ (Java for Windows developers) tool and use the Java virtual machine in its Explorer browser at that level until Jan. 2, 2008.

However, a day after the settlement was announced, Microsoft maneuvered to attract developers to its C# language.

Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan said his company will seek to migrate J++ developers as fast as possible to .Net technologies. It will do so by offering developers the chance to use J++ syntax in its Visual Studio.Net development environment, where it will be converted to .Net commands. It will also offer a set of tools to modify existing J++ applications to work as .Net programs or convert them to C# applications.

Microsoft may succeed in converting developers focused on end-user and client-side applications, said Hadley Reynolds, director of research at The Delphi Group, a portal-building consulting firm. "It continues to be the case that Java is not a major factor on the client side. That battle was lost several years ago," he said.

Java, nevertheless, has been both a language and a set of related interfaces and technologies widely used on enterprise machines and Web application servers. Reynolds said Microsoft tools still tend to be more in the class of the do-it-yourselfer frequenting Home Depot, while Java filled more of "the machine tools end of the market."

C#, Enderle said, will prove to be a Java look-alike. "It comes from the same C language code base and you will see Microsoft emulate what Java can do in C#."