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
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,
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
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