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Wednesday, 4 December, 2002, 00:07 GMT
Microsoft back in the dock
Microsoft/Sun logos
Sun Microsystems crosses swords with Microsoft
Microsoft is in court again, this time to defend itself against claims that it tried to hold back the take-up of Sun Microsystems' Java computer programming language.

Sun Microsystems is seeking over $1bn (637m)in damages from the software giant, arguing that it made its Windows XP operating system incompatible with Java.

Sun claims that by locking the language out of the widely-used XP system, Microsoft made it more difficult for programmers to use Java.

The company also wants the courts to force Microsoft to distribute the most recent versions of Java with its XP system in future.

Free rider?

Microsoft has said that it will include Java in an updated version of XP, but only until 2004.

Sun designed Java to work on all computers, irrespective of which operating system they run. The company had intended it to become the most widely used programming language.

Microsoft has since launched its own .NET technology, widely seen as a competitor to Java.

Lawyers for Microsoft said in court that carrying Java on XP would give Sun Microsystems a 'free ride' by distributing its product to a wide number of computer users.

Remedies

But US District Judge J. Frederick Motz said on Tuesday that forcing Microsoft to include Java in its XP system could be an "attractive" remedy.

He added that he would not be bound by a recent Federal court decision in a separate anti-trust lawsuit against Microsoft which expressly ruled out forcing the software giant to carry Java.

Sun Microsystems launched its legal action against Microsoft in March, shortly after a US government inquiry concluded that the software giant had broken competition rules.

Media giant AOL Time Warner also took action against Microsoft, arguing that the firm used its dominance of the operating systems market to squeeze out its Netscape Navigator Internet browser.

Earlier this week, the states of Massachusetts and West Virginia said they were going back to court to press for tough penalties aimed at curbing Microsoft's dominance of the software market.

The two firms were among nine US states which refused to go along with a settlement last year which concluded the US government's inquiry into alleged market abuses by Microsoft.

The nine states argued in court that the settlement let Microsoft off too lightly, but lost their case last month.


The settlement

Appeal court ruling

Appeal hearing

Analysis
See also:

02 Dec 02 | Business
29 Nov 02 | Business
29 Nov 02 | Business
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