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MS turning to open source outfit for Java clone?

The words 'Microsoft' and 'GNU licence' seem a particularly weird combination...

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Microsoft has turned to a small Java-cloning outfit, Transvirtual Technologies, to dig it out of the legal hole it's currently in, according to this morning's Wall Street Journal. If the Journal story is true it would appear that Transvirtual, which has previously espoused open source, has performed an interesting pirouette. Microsoft's problem stems from the latest legal rulings in the Sun-Java case. Microsoft is said to have infringed Sun's copyright, but has been given permission to clone Java. This of course is easier said than done if you haven't been operating clean room development from the start (and anyway, the concept of 'clean room' is probably anathema to Microsoft). So Microsoft has to buy in the technology if it's to rejig its Java strategy on the basis of a Java clone. But here's the puzzle. Berkeley-based Transvirtual released source code for its Kaffee OpenVM almost a year ago, and CEO Tom Wilkinson said then: "We decided to take our source code and put the GNU licence on it." Today, however, the WSJ reports that Transvirtual will introduce a product that supports Microsoft's Windows-only extensions to Java. This is technically feasible, but the notion of Microsoft getting wrapped-up in a GNU licence is boggling - there surely must be some kind of wrinkle here. But from some angles Transvirtual looks like just the sort of outfit Microsoft is looking for. Wilkinson recently spoke to Salon magazine about HP and Sun's arguments over Java: "I think that their relationship with Hewlett Packard shows that Sun really wants to have control," he said. Transvirtual has also been involved in the HP-inspired Real Time Java Working Group (a stick to beat Sun with), and is working with HP and other companies on Java compatibility test systems. ®

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