Gates on Java: 'This scares the hell out of me'
There were red faces on both sides of the Microsoft-Sun Microsystems Java lawsuit last week after the judge publicly released a parcel of documents.
In one of five briefs unsealed by the court last week, a Sun Microsystems' Java Software division executive expressed concern that "Microsoft was smarter than us" when it negotiated its Java licensing contract with Sun.
"What I find most annoying is that no one at Sun saw this coming. I don't think our folks who negotiated and agreed to these terms understood at the time what they meant. I wonder what is in other contracts?" wrote David Spenhoff, director of product marketing at the Cupertino, California-based Java Software division, according to a Microsoft brief.
Meanwhile, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates felt so threatened by Java's potential to disrupt Microsoft's dominance in the software market that he admitted, "This scares the hell out of me," according to documents filed by Sun.
In one document, Ben Slivka, the head of Microsoft's Java development team, described an encounter with Gates: "[B]ill is really pissed about this Java stuff, doesn't respond to my e-mail, and that one review meeting we had he just jumped all over me, accusing me of trying to destroy Windows. He was amazingly, unnecessarily rude to me."
The release of the previously sealed documents paves the way for U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Whyte to rule on Sun's request for a preliminary injunction.
Antitrust enforcement necessary for free market?
The head of the U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust division last week said there are no settlement talks under way with Microsoft, but the government "is always open to meaningful settlement discussions."
Joel Klein, who took time off from the trial to appear at Agenda 99, in Scottsdale, Arizona, said if antitrust efforts fail, the alternative is government regulation of monopolies -- a fate worse than antitrust enforcement. Therefore, he said, his goal is to ensure that the competitive fight is "on the merits," not on market dominance.
And although Microsoft accuses the government of interfering with the free market, Klein said the US economy is surviving while Asian economies are faltering due to "aggressive domestic competition" in the United States.
Free markets will not remain free in the absence of antitrust enforcement, Klein said. If the government stepped aside, the market would form cartels and monopolies "as natural as gravity." In high-tech, the government will go after "bottleneck monopolies," which Klein described as monopolies in areas where others have to interconnect.