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Microsoft to comply with Java order (1998)

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MS products will be compatible with Sun's Java Native Interface technology

By Elinor Mills, IDG News Service

San Francisco (November 20, 1998) -- Microsoft Corp. today said it will comply with a court order to change software in Windows 98, Internet Explorer 4.0 and its Java software developer kit so they are compatible with Sun Microsystem Inc.'s Java Native Interface technology.

Microsoft said in a statement that the ruling will not affect products customers are currently using or those in the channel and being shipped, nor will it result in any delays in delivering products to market. The company will provide updated versions of the products to OEMs and modified versions to retail stores as soon as possible, the statement said.

District Court Judge Ronald Whyte in San Jose, CA, ruled on Tuesday that Sun is likely to prevail on the merits in its lawsuit against Microsoft and gave the company 90 days to change software in its browser, operating system and developer kit. The injunction is temporary, pending the outcome of the trial, for which no date has been set. (See "Sun gets injunction against Microsoft," in Resources below).

Microsoft said it sent letters to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), resellers, enterprise customers, distributors, developers and end users giving them its assurance that they won't be adversely affected by the ruling.

"We want our customers to know that the ruling has no impact on the Microsoft products they are using now, and will not cause any delay in our ability to deliver Windows 98 and other products to the marketplace," Jeff Raikes, senior vice president for sales and support, said in a statement.

The court did not order Microsoft to remove any technology from its products, only to add support for the Sun Java technology, Microsoft said.

Developers can still use the Microsoft Java developer tools they have, such as VJ++6.0, Microsoft said. The company will modify that tool so that developers must choose to turn on the Microsoft "enhancements," the statement said. When that choice is made a message will be displayed warning that by using the Microsoft code the developer is choosing to write an application that may only run on Windows, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft will also post patches to its Web site and a Service Pack release so existing customers can modify the products they are currently using.

"We are committed to supporting Java for all our customers while assessing our business and legal options moving forward," Raikes said.

Meanwhile, Microsoft maintained that "The Java VM (virtual machine) in Windows 98 and Microsoft's other products will continue to outperform other Java implementations."