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As the code turns

Microsoft and Sun have faced off once again in a war of words that only a code-cutting propellerhead...

When Microsoft and Sun signed a landmark legal settlement and technical cooperation--capped by Sun CEO Scott McNealy and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer swapping hockey jersey gifts on stage--the two companies were supposed to cut the trash talk. Maybe some of the technical folks didnÂ’t get the memo.

The two companies have faced off once again in a war of words that only a code-cutting propeller-head could truly appreciate. At stake is who can write a faster Web service--a Java or .Net programmer.

It all started in June when Sun posted the results of a benchmark it published on the programmer Web site, The ServerSide.Net. It measured the performance and response time of the same application written to run on either Java-based Web servers or a Windows .Net server. And surprise! The tests "confirm the superior Web services performance of J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) technology," according to Sun.

That apparently didn't sit well with Sun's newfound technical partners in Redmond. In July, Microsoft issued its response. The conclusion? Microsoft replicated the test and found that the same .Net application running on nearly identical servers perform "two or three times better than Sun reported." In its paper, Microsoft's technical people managed to get a few digs in at Sun engineers as well, noting that the original test was overly simplistic and that the Windows tuning that Sun did was "completely unnecessary."

But wait, there's more! On Tuesday, Sun responded to Microsoft's response. After addressing a few nuanced technical points, Dennis MacNeil, Sun's senior product marketing manager for Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition, throws down the gauntlet, challenging Microsoft to get a third-party organization to run its own benchmarks.

Stay tuned for future installments...