Microsoft Corp. shipped its Windows XP desktop operating system to PC manufacturers Friday, accompanied by much fanfare from the software giant and gripes from rival Sun Microsystems Inc.
The "gold" release seals Microsoft's decision to keep Java source code out of the operating system, said Toni Duboise, an analyst at ARS Inc., a market research firm in La Jolla, Calif.
Beta copies of XP and Microsoft's new browser, Internet Explorer 6.0, didn't include the Java virtual machine (JVM) that was used in Windows 2000 and Internet Explorer 5.0.
That decision prompted Sun to launch full-page ads in several national newspapers earlier this month. Those ads urged users to demand that Microsoft and PC vendors such as Compaq Computer Corp. and Dell Computer Corp. support Java.
"Sun is fully prepared to support all these customers that Microsoft is abandoning," said Bill Pataky, group product manager for fundamental Java technology at Sun. "Microsoft is making it hard; we're trying to make it easy." Consumers would prefer to have the JVM preloaded rather than download it on demand, he added.
Microsoft officials contended that a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Sun barred Microsoft from including the JVM in Windows XP. They said it will be available on Microsoft's Web site.
Sun officials countered that Microsoft refused to license the technology without infringing upon Sun's copyrights. Sun pledged to develop a JVM that's compatible with Internet Explorer 6.0. It will be available for free download from Sun's Web site by XP's Oct. 25 ship date, Pataky said.
But that JVM won't be available in time for PC makers to include it on their PCs. A spokesman for Compaq said the Houston-based company will ship its PCs with Microsoft's version of the JVM.
Rob Enderle, an analyst at Giga Information Group Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., said that stressing the inconvenience of downloading the JVM could backfire for Sun because it could cause developers to shy away from client-side Java development.
"Instead of downplaying the difficulty of downloading the JVM, what Sun is doing is creating this huge exposure on the issue," said Enderle. "At the end of the day, most developers don't want to be in the middle of some battle. They'll use something else."