Microsoft to Junk Flagship Products, Cites Java Settlement

December 15 will be D-day for a number of Microsoft's established products, which the company is removing from its sales channels as a result of its legal settlement with Sun over Java.

Microsoft will phase out a slew of products as of December 15, citing its 2001 legal settlement with Sun Microsystems over Java as the impetus.

Among the products that Microsoft will no longer make available to customers through any of the Microsofts sales channels are Windows 98, SQL Server 7 and a number of versions of Office 2000, according to a note from a Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) program manager posted to a public Microsoft newsgroup. It also appears some versions of NT 4.0 are also due to be phased out, but as the note is ambiguous on this point, its impossible to tell which ones.

(Editors note: Microsoft officials amended their phase-out list after this story originally was published. Microsoft has now changed the phase out date from December 15 to December 23, 2003. And the company is now committing to update its Internet Security and Acceleration Server2000 product, rather than cut it from the list. And it is going to cut only the Terminal Server and Option Pack releases of NT 4.0, and will save the Workstation, Server and Enterprise Server releases.)

The December 4 note, which is featured on the MSDN Public Newsgroup, was signed by Andy Boyd, MSDN Subscriber Downloads program manager.

Due to a settlement agreement reached in January 2001, the following products are being phased out and will no longer available to customers through MSDN Subscriber Downloads or other channels at Microsoft," according to Boyds note. "These products will be removed from MSDN Subscriber Downloads as of December 15th, 2003."

/zimages/5/28571.gifEarlier this summer, both Microsoft and Sun declared wins in their long-standing antitrust battle over the Java Virtual Machine. To read that story and analysis, click here.

The products targeted for phase-out are those that embed Microsofts Java Virtual Machine technology.

Other products on the Dec. 15 phase-out list include: Office XP Developer and Office 2000 Developer editions; Office 2000 Premium Service Release 1; BackOffice Server 2000; Internet Internet Security and Acceleration Server(ISA) 2000; Internet Explorer 5.5; and Visual Studio 6 Microsoft Developer Edition.

One developer, who requested anonymity, noted that a number of products on the due-to-be-phased-out list are key for many companies.

There are a "lot of important Microsoft items on that list that [we] developers use all the time [SQL 7] or for backward compatibility [Windows 98]," the developer said.

Whats behind the phase out? Sun Microsystems Inc., the creator of Java, sued Microsoft in 1997 for what Sun claimed was Microsofts improper use of Suns Java technology. Sun and Microsoft agreed to settle the suit in January 2001. Microsoft paid Sun $20 million and the two agreed to a plan for Microsoft to phase out products that included the older version of Microsoft Java that allegedly infringed on Suns Java copyrights and trademarks.

In his newsgroup posting, Boyd explained that a handful of flagship products will be spared from the phase out, including Office XP Professional with FrontPage; some unidentified versions of Windows NT 4.0 and Small Business Server 2000. These wont be phased out because Microsoft is planning to update them with "Java-compliant versions" of its virtual machine technology before Dec. 31, according to Boyd.

Next page: Timing bothers some observers, such as Sun.