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Microsoft pulls Java from download page

Weeks before the software maker plans to reinstate Java in Windows XP, it shuts down a site that would automatically send Java software to Windows XP users.

Weeks before Microsoft plans to reinstate Java in Windows XP, it has shut down a site that would automatically send its Java software to Windows XP users.

The company closed the install-on-demand feature Wednesday, 30 days after it told Java inventor Sun Microsystems it would reinstate Java in Windows XP through the forthcoming Service Pack 1 but remove it altogether in 2004.

Microsoft said the option was removed to take an issue off the table in legal actions with Sun.

Java lets the same program run on a variety of computers, such as those running the Windows or Mac operating systems, thus undermining the importance of Microsoft's Windows stronghold. Under a 2001 settlement of lawsuits between Sun and Microsoft, Sun granted Microsoft a license to distribute Java with existing products, but under an antitrust suit filed this year, Sun argued that Microsoft didn't have the right to distribute the software online.

Microsoft disagrees, but decided to remove the Java download so it wouldn't be an issue, despite the inconvenience it may cause customers, said Jim Cullinan, Microsoft's lead product manager for Windows.

"Because we didn't want another issue to be brought on in the ongoing lawsuit, we decided to let them know we were going to cure that issue," Cullinan said.

Most customers' copies of Windows XP already have the Java virtual machine software through an earlier version of Windows or because it was included with a new computer. "We don't see there's going to be a huge impact on customers, but we apologize if there is," Cullinan said.

In the meantime, Microsoft directed customers who don't have Java to Sun's download site or other non-Microsoft sites.

Service Pack 1 is expected in August or September, Cullinan said