Hostilities escalate as Microsoft alleges dirty Java tricks

The release of the Java Development Kit (JDK) 1.1 by JavaSoft has prompted a stream of charges and countercharges between Microsoft and JavaSoft that may escalate into legal action. Microsoft claims part of the new JDK has been 'explicitly designed so that Java will not run on the Microsoft Java Virtual Machine'.

The release of the Java Development Kit (JDK) 1.1 by JavaSoft has prompted a stream of charges and countercharges between Microsoft and JavaSoft that may escalate into legal action.

"They are violating a very specific contractual obligation," says

Charles Fitzgerald, spokesman for the Java team at Microsoft. "I would not rule out legal action."

Nonsense, say the folks at Cupertino, California-based JavaSoft.

"What they are saying is extremely untrue," says Lisa Poulson,

spokeswoman for JavaSoft. "They are just making this up."

The battleground centers on a small piece of real estate within the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), the interface between Java and the operating system.

Java class libraries consist of two parts: the part made up of Java runs inside the JVM, and the interfaces to the native OS, such as Windows, on which the JVM runs.

According to Fitzgerald, JavaSoft changed the underlying design of the native interface, implementing what he calls the Java Native Interface (JNI), which is not compatible with the previous native interface provided in the JDK 1.0, which was called the Native Method Interface (NMI).

When Microsoft developed its JVM for Windows, it built the native code interface based on the NMI, with further enhancements, and called it Raw Native Interface (RNI).

"RNI is a superset of NMI and compatible with NMI," Fitzgerald said. "It is not compatible with JNI."

A mistake on the part of JavaSoft? Not so, says Fitzgerald.

"This is explicitly designed so that Java will not run on the Microsoft

Java Virtual Machine," Fitzgerald says. "This is by design; it is not a

bug."

Poulson said there is "no compatibility issue, whatsoever, period." She called the entire issue "the biggest tempest in a teapot ever."

Poulson said that Microsoft was not being forced to reconfigure its RNI to fit JNI.

"They seem to be thinking we're forcing them to replace RNI; we're not," Poulson said. "All we want them to do is support both."

Poulson said that Microsoft does not "own the reference implementation on Windows" and that it stood out among Java licensees with its protests.

"Don't you think its interesting that the only Java licensee making any noise about this is Microsoft?" Poulson asked.

JavaSoft, a division of Sun Microsystems Inc., is at

http://www.javasoft.com/. Microsoft Corp. is at http://www.microsoft.com/.

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