Documents: Goal to "pollute" Java

Newly released documents in the licensing dispute between Sun and Microsoft go behind the scenes of the companies' bitter rivalry.

Jeff Pelline Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Jeff Pelline is editor of CNET News.com. Jeff promises to buy a Toyota Prius once hybrid cars are allowed in the carpool lane with solo drivers.
Jeff Pelline
3 min read
Microsoft tried to "kill cross-platform Java" by growing the "polluted Java market," while a Sun Microsystems manager acknowledged that "Microsoft was smarter than us when we did the contract," according to newly released documents in the licensing dispute between the two companies.

The internal emails and memos from both sides are the latest evidence to emerge in the lawsuit, which is being heard in U.S. District Court in San Jose, California. Microsoft's aggressive strategy to compete against Java has been reported previously by CNET News.com.

Sun has posted the newly disclosed documents on its Web site, as has Microsoft, on its site. Both sides are using the documents to press their respective cases.

The filings, five of them in total, were released today by Judge Ronald Whyte. See related story:
Microsoft's holy war on Java Release of the documents clears the way for the judge to rule on Sun's request for a preliminary injunction to halt Microsoft from distributing a modified form of Java. Previously, Whyte had said that he wanted relevant filings released before he issued his ruling.

In its filing, Sun contends: "As poignantly described in Microsoft's pricing strategies for its upcoming VJ++ 6.0 Java development suite, the 'strategic objective' of its new toolkit is to 'eliminate/contain cross-platform Java by growing the polluted Java market,' 'migrate and lock Java developers to Win32 Java,' and ultimately 'kill cross-platform Java by grow[ing] the polluted Java market.'" The pricing strategy was described in an internal slide presentation at Microsoft, according to a Sun spokeswoman.

Sun's filing also named a senior Microsoft vice president who allegedly said, "[W]ithout something to pollute Java more to Windows [show new cool features that are only in Windows] we expose ourselves to more portable code on other platforms."

The document also alleges that Microsoft has required licensees to "redistribute the Microsoft virtual machine for Java included in the licensed software as part of the company product and not any virtual machine," and "use only the Microsoft native code interfaces."

A Sun spokeswoman identified those licensees were AimTech and Fujitsu.

Microsoft responded to Sun's filings by saying: "Despite aggressive language on both sides of this dispute, Sun's arguments are heavy on email snippets and light on contract specifics. Any Microsoft snippets need to be read in full context and also read in light of our Java strategy."

To press its case, Microsoft pointed to evidence in Sun's filings that focused on the licensing contract under dispute.

For instance, Microsoft's filing cited an alleged email by David Spenhoff, a former director of product marketing at JavaSoft who since has left the company: "Microsoft was smarter than us when we did the contract...What I find most annoying is that no one at Sun saw this coming. I don't think our folks who negotiated and agreed to these terms understood at the time what they meant. I wonder what is in other contracts...If we adhere to these terms, new Java and Java Platform functionality must be developed as supplemental classes without dependence on new features in the Java classes or it must have Microsoft buy-in."

Added JDK [Java Development Kit] engineering manager Eric Chu: "[The contract] subtantially limits our ability to introduce new technologies since almost all new technologies require a new class...I believe we're in violation of the MS contract and our attempt to reclass things as extensions will have limited success."

A Sun spokeswoman played down the emails. "The issue is that both [individuals] had nothing to do with the contract and had no legal training," she said, adding that Microsoft's intention was to undermine the Java platform.

Microsoft's filing also describes its perception of Sun's Java strategy and relations with Microsoft.

The software giant argues that Sun miscalculated Microsoft's ability to bring its version of a Java Virtual Machine to market.

"Sun saw that its perceived head-start on Microsoft in fact did not exist," the brief argues. As a result, Microsoft contends, Sun's strategy became to slow Microsoft down and get control of Microsoft's Virtual Machine.

"Sun simultaneously declared an 'API war' against enemy Microsoft," Microsoft's filing argues. "Sun based its technology decisions on combating Microsoft rather than creating high-quality products."

The brief also quotes a Chu memo: "I don't believe we can afford to take an aggressive approach with Microsoft unless we're willing to forego over $15 million of revenue for the next four-plus years with possible high legal costs to bear."