Sun's Schwartz bashes Microsoft

Sun Microsystem's Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president of the company's software group, has criticized Microsoft for pulling the plug on products that had a JVM (Java virtual machine) deemed incompatible with Sun's.

In an open letter on Sun's Web site, he said that Microsoft had lost sight of customer priorities.

"Microsoft's recent unilateral decision to discontinue support for Windows 98 and other products as of December 23, 2003 offers users a lesson, and an opportunity," Schwartz wrote. "It's a lesson in how a company with legendary market dominance can lose sight of customer priorities, and force an unnecessary transition onto a customer base already paralyzed with viruses and security breaches."

Schwartz added, "It's also an opportunity to explore a world of alternatives Sun and the open community are creating to deliver a more affordable and secure desktop operating environment -- called the Java Desktop System." The Java Desktop System is Sun's alternative platform to Windows.

Citing its legal settlement with Sun, Microsoft last week announced it would discontinue products such as Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0 Terminal Server Edition, and SQL Server 7.

"There is a list of products that we can no longer ship as of Jan. 2, 2004, because they include a version of the Microsoft virtual machine that we are no longer able to distribute as part of our settlement with Sun," said Microsoft's Tony Goodhew, product manager in Microsoft's developer division, last week.

Schwartz criticized Microsoft for contending Sun forced its hand. "Yet, they overlooked that this issue was part of a settlement it agreed to and Sun extended until September of next year. So apparently without consulting customers, partners or ISVs, Microsoft has unilaterally elected to pull their products from the market, then blamed it on Sun," said Schwartz.

"The agreement between Sun and Microsoft gives customers a graceful transition path to a future platform that extends far beyond December 23," Schwartz said. "Moreover, Sun has offered, and will continue to offer, a license to Java technology that would spare Microsoft any transition whatsoever so long as Microsoft maintains compatibility, and a commitment to the preservation of the very same standards igniting the world of Web services."

Goodhew, contacted Thursday, said Microsoft is contractually bound to stop shipping the JVM in the soon-to-be-discontinued products as of Jan. 2, 2004. Asked if Microsoft could license anew Sun's JVM, Goodhew said, "That's a discussion way above my pay grade."

Microsoft, he said, elected to stop distribution of some products that are nearing the end of their product life cycle. Some of the products already had passed the end of their support cycle as well, he said. "We elected (to stop shipments) because of our settlement with Sun Microsystems where we had agreed as part of that settlement that Microsoft was licensed to ship the Microsoft virtual machine only to certain dates," Goodhew said.

"The intent of (Schwartz's) letter is to confuse distribution and support, and the bulk of the products that we had stopped distribution of are continuing to be supported as per their normal support life cycle," Goodhew said.

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