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Sun, MS settle – war resumes with .NET, C# vs Java

MS Java goes into legacy mode as more eggs go into .NET basket

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The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Open warfare over Java resumes between Sun and Microsoft today, after the two companies folded their legal tents and agreed to disagree. Microsoft pays $20 million and gets to ship existing and beta Java product for seven years, while Sun terminates Microsoft's Java licences with immediate effect.

The Sun line is that the legal settlement protects Java's integrity (Microsoft doesn't get to call its products Java compatible) and that the period where Microsoft was shipping Java (albeit sometimes in the "polluted" variant) was enough to get Java in front of enough people to serve Sun's purpose. The Microsoft line is that the settlement leaves it clear to "focus all our resources" on .NET - which means Java is in Microsoft's terms a legacy product, and the company will be .NETing furiously to line up C# against Java.

Which is kind of like the situation as it existed before Microsoft licensed Java in the first place, except that today Microsoft has a more plausible alternative. And, as it's betting the ranch on .NET already, it might as well go back to trying to use Windows' critical mass to overtake, isolate and overcome Java.

So who won? The money involved is chump change for both parties, so the point is the Ts & Cs of the folding of the tents. Sun clearly thinks it now has enough mindshare for it to be impossible for Microsoft to get the genie back in the bottle, and it might just be right. Microsoft thinks it can make .NET the industry standard platform, in which case it would be likely to overcome Java as part of deal. But it might just be wrong.

So we'll see. Aside from that, we have the name-calling. Sun VP Pat Suelz said Microsoft "has proven time and again" that you can't trust it, and that it is "unwilling to abide by the common rules of the Internet. Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan's take, on the other hand, is that if other companies grasped what Sun really meant by Java compatibility, they'd terminate their licences too. But if you're waiting for a mass defection, don't hold your breath. ®

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