Microsoft to appeal Java ruling

The software giant will appeal a federal judge's preliminary ruling ordering it to modify its Java products.

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Microsoft said today that it will appeal a federal judge's preliminary ruling ordering it to modify its Java products.

The software giant said it filed a notice of appeal with a federal court in San Jose, California, giving it 28 days to file an appeal brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The brief will argue that a preliminary order issued last month by U.S. District Court Ronald Whyte should be overturned.

Whyte issued the ruling See related story:
Microsoft's holy war on Java in a private lawsuit Sun Microsystems brought against Microsoft for breach of contract and unfair competition. The suit alleges Microsoft "sabotaged" Sun's Java programming language by adding Windows-dependent extensions in violation of a license the two companies signed. Microsoft argued that the contract permitted the modifications and that its products run cross-platform versions of Java better than any other implementation, including Sun's.

Whyte's November 18 ruling preliminarily sided with Sun, stating that Microsoft's omission of a technology known as JNI, or Java Native Interface, breached the contract. The judge gave Microsoft 90 days to add the technology to its Java offerings.

Whyte also ordered Microsoft to alter its Java tools so that software developers are warned when they are about to use routines that will run only on Windows platforms. Whyte did not require Microsoft to remove a Windows-dependent technology known as J/Direct.

Sun's suit, filed in October 1997, echoes allegations made by the Justice Department (DOJ) and 19 states that Microsoft feared cross-platform Java because software developers might design their applications to run on it instead of Windows, which powers some 90 percent of personal computers today. In a trial now in its tenth week in federal court in Washington, D.C., the government has alleged that Microsoft used its market power to kill cross-plaftorm Java by creating a version of the language that is dependent on Windows.

Microsoft said it believes Whyte's preliminary ruling will not stand on appeal.

"Microsoft does not believe any preliminary injunction should have been ordered," said Tom Burt, associate general counsel for Microsoft. "Microsoft has developed the best Java implementation within the terms of our contract with Sun, and in the best interests of Java developers and consumers."

Burt added that his company will comply with Whyte's order in the meantime.

Sun confirmed receiving the notice of appeal.

Earlier this month, Microsoft released a new version of its Java virtual machine for Windows that it says complies with Whyte's ruling. Microsoft also has removed its Java virtual machine in Macintosh and Unix versions of Internet Explorer, freeing the way for third parties such as Apple Computer and Sun to provide the technologies.