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Microsoft Weighs Options Following Injunction

Microsoft officials are likely to unveil within the next few days how the company will comply with a federal judge's order that it ship Sun Microsystems-compliant Java technology in its products-- or no Java technology at all.

Judge Ronald Whyte granted Sun's request for a preliminary injunction against Microsoft yesterday in Federal Court in San Jose, Calif. The order gives Microsoft 90 days to comply with the ruling by choosing one of three remedies: ship Windows 98 and other products that contain Java virtual machines without any Java support; ship the products with a fully-complaint JVM provided by Microsoft; or ship Windows 98 with Sun's JVM.

While the order most noticeably will affect Microsoft's Windows 98 operating system for the consumer market, it will also affect its Internet Explorer 4.0 Web browser and its J + programming tool--plus any software development kits that contain Java support.

While Paul Maritz, Microsoft group VP of platforms and applications, stipulated in a conference call late yesterday that, "The option of not supporting Java is open to us [because] our contract does not require us to ship Java beyond what we already have," he later pulled back slightly from that statement, saying that "at this time, we remain committed to Java."

The question is, for how much longer? Under the terms of Judge Whyte's order, Microsoft doesn't have to recall any products from users or the channel. Further, according to Maritz, the company does not have to take any of its Windows-centric Java extensions out of its products, meaning that users' applications that take advantage of Microsoft's Java extensions would continue to run.

If Microsoft chooses to continue to support Java, it would need to implement additional Sun interfaces--known as JMI calls--so that its products comply with Sun's specifications, which are aimed at enabling developers to create applications that they "write once, run anywhere."

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