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The day Microsoft 'embraced and extended' Java

Infamy, infamy...

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Sun was soon not "happy to be working with Microsoft." Less than two years later, in October 1997, Sun sued Microsoft for breach of contract. According to Sun: "Microsoft has... embarked on a deliberate course of conduct in an attempt to fragment the standardized application programming environment established by the Java technology, to break the cross-platform compatibility of the Java programming environment, and to implement the Java technology in a manner calculated to cause software developers to create programs that will operate only on platforms that use defendant Microsoft's Win32-based operating systems."

The suit was eventually settled in January 2001, at a cost to Microsoft of $20m, but by then it was irrelevant. Microsoft had given up on Java long before, and in June 2000 announced its alternative: the .NET Framework and a new language called C#.

"December 7 is kind of a famous day", said Bill Gates during his 1995 keynote, recalling the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that officially pulled the United States into WW2. "The most intelligent comment that was made on that day was actually [by] Admiral Yamamoto, who observed that he feared they had awakened a sleeping giant."

Prophetic? In programming terms, a giant was stirred. The spat over Java invigorated Microsoft, which invested not only in C# and .NET, but also in XML, creating a viable alternative to Java in the enterprise. That said, there was no defeat for Java, which has become the world's most sought-after programming skill. Java and .NET have been good for each other.

Perhaps the greater surprise, twelve years later, is that Java's little brother JavaScript, the scripting language aimed at non-programmers, has bested Java in browser applications, and as adopted by Adobe in Flash, is also giving Microsoft tough competition everywhere from rich internet applications to mobile devices.®

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