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Microsoft wins stay of Java order

The Redmond, Wash., giant receives a reprieve from a court order requiring the company to ship Sun Microsystems' Java software.

Microsoft received a reprieve on Monday from a court order requiring the company to ship Sun Microsystems' Java software.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted Microsoft a stay of a Jan. 21 decision from U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz in Baltimore, who gave the company 120 days to begin including Sun's latest Java runtime environment in every copy of Windows and Internet Explorer.

Earlier in the day, Microsoft had said that it would comply with Motz's order by beginning to ship an updated version of Windows XP Service Pack 1 that includes a more current Java Runtime Environment from Sun.

Monday's decision means that Motz's injunction will be on hold unless the appeals court upholds the order. No hearing has been scheduled yet.

"We are pleased the Fourth Circuit has stayed the court order and agreed to hear our appeal on an expedited basis," a Microsoft representative said. "It's appropriate that this matter be decided by the circuit court before we would be required to move forward with implementing the injunction."

In a statement sent to reporters, Sun's vice president of legal affairs Lee Patch said: "We regret the 4th Circuit Court's decision. The preliminary injunctions granted by the district court will benefit consumers and the Java community's developers, enterprises and system vendors."

Sun has sued its rival for $1 billion, claiming Microsoft had tried to thwart the commercial success of Java in hopes of establishing .Net as an alternative. "The district court found that Microsoft's anticompetitive acts are tipping the market toward .Net," Patch said.

In its emergency request to the 4th Circuit, Microsoft asked the appeals court to place Motz's order on hold, calling it "extreme and unprecedented."

Last week, Sun argued in a legal brief that the appeals court should not intervene. "Microsoft's unsupported claim that its next shipping date for Windows may be adversely affected, absent a stay, is similarly unconvincing in light of the order's 120-day period for compliance," Sun said in a 25-page filing. "The order does not require Microsoft to ship the (Java Runtime Environment) in any product until June 4, two months after the proposed expedited hearing date."