MS/DoJ: Microsoft strikes back at Java injunction

Microsoft lost no time yesterday in its antitrust trial to strike back at the preliminary injunction against its use of Java.

The injunction, issued yesterday by a US district court judge in Sun Microsystems' case against Microsoft's use of Java, ordered Microsoft to stop using Java unless it complies with Sun's compatibility test.

The US Government, in its antitrust complaint against Microsoft, has alleged that the software giant is "polluting Java" to defuse it as a threat to Microsoft's Windows operating system.

But in its cross-examination today of government witness John Soyring, IBM's director of network computing software services, Microsoft attorney Steven Holley questioned Soyring about a decision by Lotus Development, an IBM subsidiary, to use Microsoft's Java implementation.

In his testimony, Holley said Microsoft's integration of Internet Explorer with Windows is being used to undermine the cross-platform capabilities of Java. But Lotus, said Holley, used Microsoft's Java tools in developing its eSuite WorkPlace office suite after its own benchmark test concluded it was faster than the Java virtual machine used by Netscape Communications.

In developing this product, "Lotus used the tools that Sun has succeeded in getting enjoined" in yesterday's court action, suggested Holley, somewhat angrily.

Soyring said he didn't know what tools Lotus had used, but Holley had made his point.

During a break in the proceedings, David Boies, the government's lead attorney in the case, said Microsoft's quick introduction of the California decision in the antitrust case is significant.

"This is an important development, and obviously the finding in California gives material help to what we're trying to establish here," Boies said. The injunction also shows that "this is not a theoretical issue that is being confronted but this is something that is real and has a real effect," Boies added.

But Boies wasn't specific on how the injunction would help the government, other than to say that it will be cited in briefs and arguments.

Boies didn't predict how the California court decision might affect Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, who is presiding over the Microsoft antitrust trial. "What weight -- if any -- Judge Jackson chooses to give to the legal holdings of a district court ... is entirely up to his discretion."

But Tom Burt, associate general counsel at Microsoft, downplayed the effect of yesterday's decision. He said the action "will have very little implications on the case here in Washington".

Burt said the reference to Java in the day's proceedings was a coincidence. He said Microsoft attorneys were responding to Soyring's allegations on its use of Java.

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