MS/DOJ: Gosling didn't trust Microsoft

James Gosling, the father of the Java programming language, was skeptical of Sun Microsystems licensing the cross-platform technology to Microsoft in 1995 both because he didn't trust the software giant and because Sun had portrayed Java "as a way to attack the evil empire," according to e-mail released yesterday. 'Personally, I just don't trust them,' Gosling said in the e-mail. ' The planet is littered with companies that did deals with Microsoft expecting to win big but ended up getting totally screwed.'

James Gosling, the father of the Java programming language, was skeptical of Sun Microsystems licensing the cross-platform technology to Microsoft in 1995 both because he didn't trust the software giant and because Sun had portrayed Java “as a way to attack the evil empire,” according to e-mail documents released in Microsoft's antitrust trial yesterday.

Sun executives had plans to use Java and a Java chip still under development to displace the dominant Windows operating system and Intel microchip architecture on desktop personal computers, according to documents.

Executives weighed those goals against the widespread deployment of the Java technology they would achieve through a Microsoft license, which was eventually signed Dec. 6, 1995.

"Java would instantly become a galactic standard," Gosling wrote to Sun chief executive and president Scott McNealy and others in a 1995 e-mail discussing the merits of a Microsoft deal. "But there are many problems. Personally, I just don't trust them. The planet is littered with companies that did deals with Microsoft expecting to win big but ended up getting totally screwed."

In addition, Gosling wrote, he was concerned what a compact with Microsoft would do to Java licensees who had been told, "We see Java as a way to attack the evil empire."

The assorted documents were introduced during Gosling's first day on the witness stand today. Gosling, vice president and chief scientist of Sun's Java Software Division, has testified in a 35-page written statement to the court that Microsoft used the license for Java in an attempt to tailor-make a version of Java optimized to run on the Windows operating system. That version of Java, he said, threatens to make the most widely distributed version of Java technologies incompatible with the standard Java language developed by Sun.

Microsoft in-house counsel, Tom Burt, who is cross examining Gosling attempted to use internal Sun e-mails and other documents to show that Sun intended to create a new Java-based operating system and chip architecture to "kill" Microsoft, Intel and a host of other high-tech companies. In an e-mail reportedly sent from McNealy to employees after viewing a Java demonstration, the avid Microsoft foe said, "Charge! Kill HP (Hewlett Packard Co.), IBM (Corp.), Microsoft and Apple (Computer Inc.) all at once."

Sun’s former chief technology officer, Eric Schmidt, now chief executive of Novell Inc., said in a memo that a "Java market wedge" could "attack Novell, Lotus, Borland and Microsoft franchises.” The memo stated, "Java morphs into a new computing system that is platform independent."

Outside the courthouse, Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray alleged that "Sun had detailed secret plans to leverage Java to attack Microsoft, attack Intel and attack many other high-tech companies" and wanted to "dominate every aspect of computing --- from chips and operating system to Internet."

Sun’s spokeswoman Lisa Poulson said the cross-examination was "ignoring the fact that a contract exists and a judge in San Jose has upheld our version of what the contract says not once but twice."

In federal court in San Jose, California, Sun recently won a preliminary injunction which forces Microsoft to include a version of Java in some of its products that will pass Sun's compatibility test.

But Microsoft, as it has done with nearly every witness the government has presented, attempted to portray Sun living by the same tough-talking tactics that the government has alleged were illegal in Microsoft's case, because the government claims Microsoft has a monopoly in the operating system software market.

In addition, Burt attempted to display to the court that Microsoft's customized features for Java are technologically superior to the version developed by Sun. He introduced several reviews in trade publications as evidence. Under questioning, Burt attempted to get Gosling to admit that Java hasn't lived up to its potential because Sun’s version contains flaws, such as the inability to give more than one function to one mouse button.

"It's true that you can't give unique functionality to a middle or right mouse button, isn't it?" Burt asked.

"You absolutely can get a mouse click,” Gosling said. “It appears as a shift/click thing."

The Java technology, which has been under development since 1991, was unveiled by Sun with much fanfare in 1995. The company contended that it could function across different operating system platforms and coined the phrase for developers “write once, run anywhere.” On the witness stand, Gosling backed away somewhat from that marketing claim. He labeled it “one of many high level goals of Java.”

But Gosling did concede that there are certain functions not optimized by the use of Java. Burt asked him whether there were disadvantages to writing across platforms for users.

"There are certain tasks for which Java is not appropriate,” he testified. “That's why there are multiple languages in this world."

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