MS/DOJ: MS Betrayed Java Community Effort

James Gosling, the creator of the Java programming language and a Sun Microsystems vice president, has in court defended the Java development process as a "community" effort that Microsoft ultimately violated.

"Often when Microsoft was holding out their hand there was a knife in it and they were expecting us to grab the blade," said Gosling, during his testimony in the US government's antitrust case against Microsoft.

But Microsoft attorney Tom Burt has a different view of that relationship. During questioning recently, he has sought to portray Sun as a company that spurred Microsoft in favour of working with its competitors.

And Burt appeared to charge Sun with making its own unilateral changes Java. He cited, in particular, a new keyword added to the just released Java version, called Java 2.

That change, insisted Gosling, was "made after a large debate with the community" -- although he acknowledges that he wasn't sure what had happened in this particular case.

But Burt, Microsoft's corporate attorney, continued to pursue the argument that Sun has repeatedly rebuffed Microsoft's efforts to cooperate on Java.

One example cited today by Burt of a missed opportunity for co-operation, occurred in April 1996, following a Sun meeting with Microsoft. In an e-mail written after that meeting, a Sun executive expressed worry over Microsoft's use of the term "language extensions" in regard to Java.

Burt asked Gosling if anyone from Sun responded to Microsoft about its use of language extensions.

Gosling said they didn't, adding that said Sun didn't think "that this was going to lead to something that would require us to send a nasty-gram from a lawyer."

Gosling in his written testimony has accused Microsoft of extending Java in ways that are supported by Microsoft's implementation of Java. That dispute is the subject of the lawsuit filed by Sun against Microsoft now being fought in federal court in San Jose, California.

In the antitrust trial, the government alleges that Java's cross-platform capability has the potential of knocking down the application-programming entry barriers created by Windows' dominance.

Outside the court, David Boies, lead counsel for the US government, said that when Microsoft bundles its noncross-platform version of Java into its Internet Explorer browser and then bundles Explorer into its operating system, it is preserving its monopoly by requiring customers to accept its own version of Java.

But Mark Murray, a Microsoft spokesman, said that "competition was at the heart of what both Microsoft and Sun were doing -- Sun had its vision that Java was going to be cross-platform and was going to knock out Windows." Microsoft wanted to give developers choices and "developers choose Microsoft's strategy," he said.

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