Java hearings reveal Microsoft/Sun differences

This week, representatives of both Microsoft Corporation and Sun Microsystems are taking the stand to deliver their version of the events leading up to the trial that will determine whether Microsoft illegally modified Java for its own purposes. In testimony on Tuesday, Microsoft's Bob Muglia said that his company's contract for Java specifically gives Microsoft the right to modify the language as they see fit. Wednesday, Sun's James Gosling--the co-creator of Java--testified that Microsoft had promised not to run wild with Java. The testimonies are part of an evidentiary hearing for the trial.

Bog Muglia's testimony focused on the events leading up to Microsoft's signing of the Java contract in March 1996. The companies met several times and hammered out an agreement after a 20-hour marathon session right before a Microsoft developer event. Muglia also prevented an email from Sun's negotiators, that is now under court seal, that appears to give Microsoft permission to modify Java for the Windows platform. Muglia says the final contract, too, gives Microsoft the right to modify the Java language, the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and Visual J++ (Microsoft's Java development tool) so that they worked better with Windows.

Gosling presented Sun's vastly different explanation of the events, recalling a 1997 meeting with Microsoft that dealt specifically with the possibility that Microsoft was making proprietary extensions to Java. He said that Microsoft promised it would never do that. According to Gosling, Microsoft representatives said "We'd never be cowboys because doing such a thing would be harmful." After the meeting, Sun's Java team never heard from Microsoft again. The next thing they knew, Microsoft had introduced Visual J++ with a modified Java language and JVM. Microsoft had never told them they were working on these products, he said.

This week's testimonies, which will also include Sun's Alan Baratz and Lee Patch will culminate in a Thursday hearing where a judge will hear Sun's request for a preliminary injunction blocking Microsoft from shipping Windows 98 and Visual J++ 6.0. Windows 98 ships with Microsoft's modified JVM, while Visual J++ 6.0, which is due to ship in October, contains all of the Java modifications Microsoft has made to date

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