Microsoft, Sun release Java contract, trade barbs

Microsoft and Sun Microsystems have posted their disputed Java licensing agreement on their respective Websites, where the technology giants also trade barbs in the latest round of their ongoing dispute. Microsoft's Website suggests that Sun sought to keep the Java licensing agreement secret, while Microsoft wanted it to be made public. A senior Sun official says that is 'an aboslute lie' and that the two companies agreed to post the contract details on the same day.

Microsoft and Sun Microsystems have posted their disputed Java licensing agreement on their respective Websites, where the technology giants also trade barbs in the latest round of their ongoing dispute.

Earlier this week, Sun filed an amended complaint to its lawsuit against Microsoft. Sun is seeking US$35 million in damages for Microsoft's alleged illegal distribution of the Sun source code in the beta version of the Microsoft Software Development Kit for Java. The damage amount was specified in the licensing agreement in the event that Sun alleged a violation.

Sun contends that Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser and the development kit are not fully Java-compatible, which violates the licensing agreement signed in March 1996.

The original lawsuit was filed last week and alleges trademark infringement, false advertising, breach of contract, unfair competition, interference with prospective economic advantage and inducing breach of contract.

Microsoft's Website suggests that Sun sought to keep the Java licensing agreement secret, while Microsoft wanted it to be made public.

"That's an absolute lie," says John Loiacono, director of marketing strategy and branding at Sun. Both companies agreed to keep the agreement confidential, so Sun filed it in court as a sealed document, he says. Since the lawsuit was filed, both companies agreed to make it public on the same day, he says.

Microsoft did not return a phone call seeking comment, but the Microsoft Web site says the company asked Sun to unseal the document. Sun, according to the Microsoft Web site, "selectively revealed and paraphrased parts of the agreement" in its lawsuit.

"Given that Sun has been attempting to argue the case in the court of public opinion, it was important to make sure that the entire contract was revealed, not just the individual sections that Sun has already disclosed," the Microsoft Web site says under a question-and-answer section regarding the licensing agreement.

Java is both a platform-independent operating environment and a programming language. Many industry analysts believe that Microsoft views Java as a threat to its lock on the desktop operating system environment with its Windows software.

The Sun Web site suggests that Netscape Navigator, a browser that has more marketshare than Internet Explorer 4.0, is "the best choice for end users who want to be sure they can always run Java."

The text of the amended complaint, the licensing agreement and other information about the ongoing dispute with Microsoft may be obtained on Sun's Web site at http://www.sun.com or at http://java.sun.com/. Microsoft's statements regarding the dispute and a copy of the licensing agreement are also available on its Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/corpinfo/.

--------------

Below are the question-and-answer sections posted on the Microsoft and Sun Websites regarding their ongoing legal dispute over the Java licensing agreement. They have been edited for length.

(1) Microsoft: Questions and Answers About the Agreement

The Java licensing Agreement between Microsoft and Sun is now public. We know it's

been difficult and perhaps frustrating to try and sort through the various statements

and claims made by both companies in this dispute. Now that the contract is public,

we encourage you to read it.

Q. Why did Microsoft push to make the Agreement public?

Sun filed the Agreement under seal with the court so that the public would not have

access. Microsoft asked Sun to unseal the Agreement. Sun has said many things,

both to the press and in its Complaint about the Agreement and what it claims are

Microsoft's obligations under the Agreement. In the Complaint, Sun selectively

revealed and paraphrased parts of the Agreement. Given that Sun has been

attempting to argue this case in the court of public opinion, it was important to

make sure that the entire contract was revealed, not just the individual sections

that Sun has already disclosed.

Q. During Sun's conference call announcing the Complaint, Alan Baratz said,

"Microsoft is not the reference implementation for Java on Windows or on any

other platform." What does the Agreement say?

The phase "Reference Implementation" appears dozens of times in the contract.

Section 1.10 defines the Reference Implementation.

The joint press release from Sun and Microsoft that announced Microsoft's

licensing of Java on March 12, 1996, and the release announcing the

incorporation of Java as a feature of Windows on April 30, 1996 also highlights

this fact.

Q. Is Microsoft required to ship JNI?

There is no provision in the contract that requires Microsoft to ship JNI. We have

chosen not to ship JNI because it is redundant with and inferior to features already

supplied in Microsoft's virtual machine.

Q. Is Microsoft required to ship RMI?

RMI is not an issue as it was posted on Microsoft's web site at the same time

Internet Explorer 4.0 was released.

Q. Can Microsoft make changes to the licensed technology?

Section 2.1(a) describes Microsoft's irrevocable rights to modify and adapt the

licensed technology. Section 2.8(d) only restricts changes to the names of certain

public classes; it does not affect Microsoft's right to add methods and fields to Java

classes.

Q: Does the Agreement provide for injunctive relief?

Section 11.2(d) limits Sun to monetary damages.

(2) Sun Microsystems Takes Legal Action Against Microsoft

Java stands for cross-platform compatibility. Its ability to unite

disparate systems has made it one of the computer industry's

most widely adopted innovations, licensed to 117 companies

and already used by more than 700,000 software developers

around the world.

Only one of those licensees -- Microsoft -- has attempted to

undermine that quality. Our goal is simple: Bring Microsoft

back into compliance with Java standards. Period.

In the meantime, users of Microsoft Windows can continue to

access Java applications by using Netscape Navigator. Java

applications will run within Netscape's browser without

modification.

Many Java applications will run within Microsoft's Internet

Explorer 4.0 without modification. But since Microsoft omitted

two key Java components from IE 4.0, some Java applications

may need slight modifications to run within that browser.

While the burden of these modifications falls on developers,

the ease of deployment characteristics of Java computing are

not compromised. The IE 4.0 user can be totally insulated from

these modifications. To ensure complete interoperability with

IE 4.0, developers should note the workarounds explained in

the Q&A below.

Q&A

Q: Has Sun revoked Microsoft's license to use Java?

A: Sun has sued Microsoft for breaching its contractual

obligation to deliver a complete, fully-compatible

implementation of Java on its products. Sun is seeking an

injunction to prevent Microsoft from using the Java Compatible

logo. Sun is seeking to prevent Microsoft from misleading Java

developers, and to prevent them from delivering anything but

fully compatible Java technology implementations.

To be very clear, this action does not seek to revoke

Microsoft's license. Our goal is for Microsoft to fulfill the

obligations created in the licensing agreement.

Q: How did Microsoft breach their agreement?

A: Microsoft delivered a product that did not pass the Java

compatibility tests. Their license with Sun is very specific that

no product containing any Java technologies may be shipped

without first passing the Java compatibility tests. Microsoft's

Internet Explorer 4.0 does not pass the tests.

Q: What functions are provided by the Java components

Microsoft has ommitted from Internet Explorer 4.0 and

their development kit?

A: The Remote Method Interface, RMI, allows parts of a Java

program running on different computers to communicate with

one another. The Java Native method Interface, JNI, allows

Java programs to run programs written in other languages

such as C or C++. Many but not all of the functions of RMI can

be achieved using JavaIDL. Sun recommends using JavaIDL

until a means for providing RMI on Windows and IE 4.0 is

available. Applications that use native methods must use JNI

for all platforms except Internet Explorer. IE applications must

use RNI, Microsoft's variant of JNI.

Q: Is Java fragmenting?

A: There is only one Java. It is the platform that Sun and its

other 116 licensees provide to the industry, the platform that

more than 700,000 developers are using to build applications,

the platform that delivers a unique value proposition: Write

once, run anywhere. Safe network delivery. Smart card to

supercomputer scalability.

Only one of Sun's 116 Java licensees is seeking to

deliberately undermine that value proposition and to confuse

developers. That company is Microsoft.

Q: Is Netscape any more compliant than Microsoft?

A: Netscape has been very clear with developers about their

level of Java compatibility. Netscape does not misrepresent

their status to developers, nor do they attempt to confuse them.

And Netscape has a stated, demonstrated commitment to

delivering fully compliant Java implementations within their

products.

Q: How is Microsoft's behavior different from that of

other Java licensees?

A: Microsoft has deliberately modified the Java platform by

inserting Microsoft methods disguised as Java methods within

the hierarchy. Because Microsoft has deliberately mislabeled

the methods, software developers using these methods may

be deceived into believing that they have written 100% Pure

Java applications.

Microsoft has repeatedly claimed that Java cannot deliver

"Write Once, Run Anywhere" capabilities. They have

attempted to fulfill this claim by inserting their own technology

within their Java implementation.

Q: How will Windows users get Java now?

A: Netscape Navigator is the best choice for end users who

want to be sure they can always run Java.

For developers, Sun offers the Java Performance Runtime for

Windows, a high-performance implementation of what's

required to run Java applications on Win 32 platforms. Free of

charge to developers, it is available for download from Sun's

Web site.

Developers also have access to Java implementations for

Windows via the industry's leading tools, including Symantec's

Visual Cafe, IBM's Visual Age, Borland's Latte, and Sun's own

Java WorkShop.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments
[]