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Sun execs said Microsoft could change Java, claims Microsoft

And Microsoft seems to be making afair stab at proving Sun intended to kill it

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Previously sealed transcripts of the Sun-Microsoft court battle were released yesterday, revealing a ding-dong battle between the companies' lawyers over precisely which of the pair was hell-bent on ruling the world. This strikes The Register as a pity, as world domination is what the other case is about - this one's just about what the contract says. As far as that matter was concerned, the struggle (which took place on 10 September) seems to have tilted towards Microsoft. Sun emails produced by Microsoft showed that at least some Sun executives had read the contract and agreed with Microsoft's interpretation of it, concluding that Microsoft could design its own Java Native Interface (JNI), and there wasn't a damn thing Sun could do about it. Microsoft argues that the contract gives it full rights to modify or optimise Java for the Windows platform, and while the net effect of this might be, as Sun argues, to fragment Java and spoil Sun's dream of 'write once, run everywhere,' if the contract says its OK, spoiling Sun's plans is at best a matter for another court. Those Sun execs who agreed with Microsoft went quiet pretty fast though, because according to Microsoft Sun JavaSoft president Alan Baratz mailed them all and told them to stop reading the contract. So chalk up another point to Microsoft, and then try speculating like crazy. Baratz is the man who negotiated the contract from the Sun side, so should know what he meant the contract to say, if not quite what other people might think it says (it's up on the respective Web sites, folks, and frankly it beats us). Baratz also knows what Sun boss Scott McNealy thinks it ought to have said, and can surely expect little mercy if the court concludes contrariwise. Shadow-boxing for the DoJ The other stuff from the transcripts is rather more interesting, but unless the judge is going to take motivation into account, not totally relevant to this case. From Microsoft's point of view though it's probably providing valuable practice for the DoJ antitrust action, which is due to start in another two weeks, unless it gets delayed again. Again, Microsoft does better, but maybe because we've heard all about Microsoft's world domination plans before, whereas dope on Sun's is relatively fresh meat. Microsoft was claiming that Sun, in collusion with the Gang of Four (Microsoft calls "gang of four" to account for their actions), had devised Java as a strategy to kill Microsoft, and the company's attorney Karl Quackenbush cited an email from Sun exec David Spenhoff referring to "Sun's fundamental belief that it will be Java that kills Microsoft." Sun co-founder and noted guru Bill Joy also got in on the act, with Quackenbush describing a Joy document which included a diagram showing 'Wintel' being eliminated by 2000. This is promising territory for Microsoft, and if it's extended to the rest of the Gang of Four it could play well in the DoJ case. If we put ourselves in Scott McNealy's shoes a few years back, surveying the trends in the market, then what we'd see would be a Windows juggernaut. Sun had tried to stop it by various means in the past, but had failed. So in devising the Java strategy, Sun couldn't really help thinking in terms of breaking Microsoft's hold on the market, and these thoughts would inevitably extend to breaking Microsoft. If we then look at how the Java strategy is being executed, we see strong central (Sun) control over what the standard is, and we also see Sun owned and funded (and therefore controlled) initiatives spreading out in all directions. There are basically very few areas in the Java space where Sun does not have its own product, or planned product. So if it worked, Microsoft's attorneys will point out, Microsoft will be broken, and Sun will own the market. Tricky one to argue though - Microsoft could easily wind up proving that all tech companies are conniving, duplicitous schemers aiming to rule the world, and Judge Penfield Jackson might then break them all up. ® Click for more stories

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