Microsoft broke undertakings, says Java co-creator

Sun Microsystems Vice President James Gosling, the co-creator of the Java programming language, has told a court that Microsoft acknowledged to him at a meeting in February 1997 that adding extensions to the Java language would be harmful to developers and end users. 'They said they would never be cowboys and go off and do such things because it would be harmful,' he said.

Sun Microsystems Vice President James Gosling, the co-creator of the Java programming language, has told a court that Microsoft's Java technology does not allow developers to write applications that will run on any platform.

"There's a tight interlock" between the Java technology Microsoft uses in its development tools and the software program -- known as a Java Virtual Machine -- it has developed to run those Java applications, Gosling said. He made his statements during questioning on the second day of evidentiary hearings in Sun's lawsuit against Microsoft.

One of Sun's key goals with Java, Gosling told the court, was to develop a programming language that allowed developers to write a program once that would run on any platform.

When a software developer uses Microsoft's Visual J++ developer tool to write an application that uses both the Java and C programming languages it will run only on Microsoft's Java Virtual Machine, Gosling explained. This is because Microsoft has included compiler directives and keywords in its development tools that are not part of Sun's Java specification, according to Gosling.

Microsoft also acknowledged at a meeting in February 1997 that adding extensions to the Java language would be harmful to developers and end users, Gosling said.

"They said they would never be cowboys and go off and do such things because it would be harmful," he said.

Among its allegations against Microsoft, Sun claims Microsoft has added extensions to Java that violate its licensing contract with Sun.

In testimony yesterday, Microsoft Senior Vice President Robert Muglia told the court Microsoft's licensing contract with Sun allows it to modify the Java language in the way that it has. [See "UPDATE: Microsoft Executive Testifies in Sun's Java Hearing," Sept. 9 ]

Sun has charged Microsoft with releasing a "polluted" version of Java in its Windows 98 software and Java development tools. The hearings this week are part of Sun's request for a preliminary injunction that would force Microsoft to stop shipping those products until it complies with Sun's Java specifications.

The two sides will present oral arguments tomorrow. Pending the outcome of a separate hearing scheduled for later today, oral arguments tomorrow may or may not be open to the public.

Sun, based in Mountain View, California, can be reached at +1-415-960-1300 or at http://www.sun.com/. Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at +1-425-882-8080 or at http://www.microsoft.com/.

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