Microsoft begins to comply with Java order

Microsoft has posted on the Web a new version of its Java Virtual Machine (JVM) for Windows and Internet Explorer, as it takes its first steps to comply with a US district court order.

The JVM supports Sun Microsystems' Java Native Interface technology, Microsoft said. Last month a district court judge in California gave Microsoft 90 days to make changes to its Java products, including the addition of Java Native Interface (JNI), to bring them into line with Sun's Java compatibility tests.

A JVM is a program that allows a computer to run Java applets and applications. The JNI is a part of the JVM that allows Java programs to "speak to" the computer's underlying operating system and take advantage of features that are specific to it, such as the multiple font types available in Windows.

Microsoft developed its own version of JNI, called the Raw Native Interface, which currently ships with Windows 98 and Internet Explorer. Sun said Microsoft's RNI does not offer the same cross-platform capabilities of JNI, and filed suit against Microsoft for allegedly violating the terms of its Java licensing contract.

Judge Ronald Whyte of US District Court in San Jose, California, ruled last month that Sun is likely to win its lawsuit based on the merits of the case, and issued a preliminary injunction against Microsoft requiring it to make changes to its products.

The JVM released today is "the first step to coming into compliance with the judge's order," said Joe Herman, a product manager with Microsoft's platform marketing group.

To comply with the order fully, Microsoft must include the new JVM with all new versions of Windows and Internet Explorer it ships. It must also make certain changes to its Java development tools. The company is working on those requirements and hopes to have the changes completed by the time the court's 90-day time limit expires, Herman said.

The new JVM is faster than the previous version from Microsoft, and expands the options for developers who want to develop Java applications for Windows environments, Herman said.

The new virtual machine is available for customers with Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows NT. Developers can download it at http://www.microsoft.com/java/. End users can download an update to the JVM that ships with Internet Explorer at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/download/jvm.htm/Microsoft has said it won't be releasing a new version of Internet Explorer with Java for Macintosh and Unix users. Users of those platforms who want a browser that supports Sun's version of Java can check http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/mac/, where Microsoft will refer users to other JVM makers who serve those platforms.

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James Niccolai

PC World

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