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Ruling Forces MS To Include Java With Windows

Ruling Forces MS To Include Java With Windows

by , 8:00 AM EST, December 24th, 2002

Sun Microsystems won a major battle against Microsoft yesterday with a ruling in the U.S. District Court. Sun is suing Microsoft in an attempt to force the company to build the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) into Windows XP, instead of making Windows users download and install the software separately. The company is suing Big Redmond on the basis of its conviction as a predatory monopolist. Sun is seeking damages of US$1 billion, in addition to the Java issue.

Microsoft used to include the JVM in Windows, but stopped after the company began seriously pushing its own .Net technology, a vaguely competitive product. Sun asked the courts to force Microsoft to resume including the JVM with Windows. At issue is whether or not Microsoft retains the right as a monopolist to decide what it bundles or includes with Windows. This is one of the many areas left unfixed by the whitewash antitrust settlement reached by the Bush administration's DoJ and Microsoft earlier this year. Though that settlement includes almost no remedial measures designed to curb Microsoft's predatory practices, it status as a convicted monopolist leaves the company open to suits looking for damages and other relief, such as Sun's.

The ruling issued late yesterday grants a preliminary injunction that forces Microsoft to ship Sun's Java with the Windows operating system. As it stands, the injunction will remain in place until the case is decided, or Microsoft can successfully appeal it. Judge J. Frederick Motz explained the nature of the injunction in his ruling. From the MSNBC article:

Motz said there was a "substantial" likelihood the court will impose the condition permanently.

He called the injunction "an elegantly simple remedy" aimed at preventing Microsoft's past wrongs from giving it an advantage in the market battle for Internet-based computing.

"I further find it is an absolute certainty that unless a preliminary injunction is entered, Sun will have lost forever its right to compete, and the opportunity to prevail, in a market undistorted by its competitor's antitrust violations," Motz said in the 42-page opinion.

Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler said the company will ask for an appeal of the ruling "on an expedited basis."

The preliminary injunction in the private antitrust suit will remain in effect while the case is either tried or settled.

Sun's antitrust lawsuit, which also seeks at least $1 billion in damages, is one of several currently before Motz that have [sic] been filed in the wake of Microsoft's long-running antitrust fight with the government.

This marks the first major setback for Microsoft since the original ruling to break the company up into two separate companies, and the subsequent appellate ruling upholding that the company was indeed a monopolist. The break up order was vacated by the appellate court, which decided that Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson had displayed bias during the remedy phase of the trial.

More information on the antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft can be found in the MSNBC article.

The Mac Observer Spin:

Yesterday's ruling is most definitely a big win for Sun Microsystems in their fight against Microsoft. The injunction placed on Microsoft, although temporary, seeks to at least temporarily level the playing field between Microsoft's .NET and Sun's Java software.

Normally, it would be unreasonable for a judge to legally bind a company to carrying its competitor's products, but when you are a convicted monopolist, and an abusive one at that, the rules change. While this is only a temporary state, it may well be the first step in fighting Microsoft in one of many private antitrust lawsuits occurring.

Note, too, the very heavy-handed wording from Judge Motz, which sits in stark contrast to the attitude displayed by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly during the settlement between the DoJ and Microsoft. This whole trial has suddenly gotten substantially more interesting.

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