COMDEX: Developers Favour Ruling on MS Java

Two days after a judge ordered Microsoft to make changes to its Java-related products so that they comply with Sun Microsystems' compatibility tests, some software developers reacted with satisfaction, while one Microsoft rival offered to "help" its competitor.

On Wednesday, Microsoft released a statement saying it would comply with the order, and that it has 90 days to do so by supporting Sun's Java Native Interface (JNI) in the Microsoft Java virtual machine and turning off by default certain Microsoft-specific keywords in its development tools.

"Hoo-ha!" exulted Tim Jones, vice president of Enhanced Software Technologies. "I think that if Microsoft wants to play ball, it needs to play ball by the rules."

Jones has been following the Sun-Microsoft Java lawsuit with more interest than the high-profile antitrust case brought against Microsoft by the US Department of Justice, because its subject matter really "hits home" for the average developer.

Microsoft's efforts to go off on its own technical tangent with Java "created not two camps, but a lot of confusion," said Eric Ding, software development engineer at Applix.

There also was strong support for Judge Whyte's decision in Microsoft's own backyard - the third-party developers area of its enormous Comdex booth.

"This is a good thing for Java," said Raymond Kellman, an account executive with Karta Technologies.

"By adding its own extensions to Java, Microsoft has taken it in a different direction than originally intended - basically, it has stifled Java and stopped Java's growth."

The advice from several developers and manufacturers exhibiting at the Microsoft booth was clear: the software giant should not try to appeal the preliminary injunction.

"Microsoft should play along with this -- with everything that's coming out in the government (antitrust) trial, it's a grand opportunity for good publicity," said Bill Schiel, senior applications consultant with software developer Intellution, also exhibiting at the Microsoft booth.

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