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Microsoft expands Java compliance

The company says it has brought its software development tools into compliance with a judge's preliminary injunction regarding Sun's language.

Microsoft has updated its Visual J++ Java development tool to comply with a federal judge's recent court order against the company, but the changes do not affect existing developers.

The Redmond, Washington, software company posted a service pack Wednesday for its Visual Studio software developer tools, which includes bug fixes and "the required Visual J++ files needed to comply with the preliminary ruling issued by Federal District Court Judge Ronald H. Whyte," Microsoft said on its Web site.

The changes to Visual J++, available in Visual Studio 6.0 Service Pack 2.0, features a default mode that has Microsoft's two language extensions turned off and lets developers to immediately write software in pure Java, said Bill Dunlap, Microsoft's lead Visual J++ product manager.

If developers want to use Microsoft's language extensions, a warning pops up on the screen that tells them they will use code that may be incompatible with other versions of Java and that future court decisions may prevent them from using the extensions, he said.

But the changes don't affect current J++ users, Dunlap said. Visual J++ is being manufactured with the changes, so the new version should hit store shelves soon, he said. In the meantime, Service Pack 2, is available for Whyte's injunction required Microsoft to make its software development programs support Sun's standards by default and alert programmers when they veered from that course.

Specifically, the court required programming tools to be set by default to disable Microsoft extensions to Java.

In addition, the court required Microsoft to modify programs such as Web browsers that can run Java programs by making them capable of using Sun's method of calling upon code modules written in the native language of one machine or another. Sun wants Microsoft to use its Java Native Interface (JNI), but Microsoft has its own Windows-specific methods.

The court gave Microsoft 90 days to comply with the injunction, but Microsoft requested an extra 120 days to bring some of its products into compliance. Although Sun and Microsoft have agreed on the extensions issue for 800 products, Whyte will decide on the remaining 200.

In December, Microsoft posted changes to its Windows operating systems and to its Windows Web browsers to bring those products into compliance with the preliminary injunction.