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Hot off the Press National News
AP Wire

Court issues Microsoft an injunction in Sun Java case

BALTIMORE - Microsoft must include rival Sun Microsystem's Java programming language in its Windows operating system, a federal judge ruled Monday, handing Sun a victory as it pursues its private antitrust case.

Sun had argued during a three-day hearing earlier this month before U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz that Microsoft has gained an unfair advantage by shipping Windows — used by more than 90 percent of the world's personal computers — with an outdated version of Java that's inconsistent for its users.

"In the final analysis, the public interest in this case rests in assuring that free enterprise be genuinely free, untainted by the effects of antitrust violations," Motz said in his ruling.

Software developers are turning to Microsoft's .NET platform instead of gambling on Microsoft's spotty distribution of Java, Sun attorneys told Motz during the hearing.

Microsoft attorneys countered that at least half the world's software developers already use Java, which was designed to run small applications independent of any particular operating system.

"Competition is not only about winning the prize; its deeper value lies in giving all those who choose to compete an opportunity to demonstrate their

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worth," Motz wrote. "If .NET proves itself to be a better product than Java, it should — and will — predominate in the market."

Motz wrote that if Microsoft's system was to remain dominant, "it should be because of .NET's superior qualities, not because Microsoft leveraged its PC monopoly to create market conditions in which it is unfairly advantaged."

In asking for the injunction, Sun said that if it waited until its $1 billion antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft was settled, it would be too far behind to compete.

In the antitrust suit, Sun accuses Microsoft of intentionally creating incompatibilities with competitors' products. It also charges that Microsoft forced other companies to distribute or use products incompatible with Java.

The case is one of four private antitrust lawsuits that followed a federal judge's ruling in a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department and 18 states. The court had found that Microsoft acted as an illegal monopoly based on its dominance in desktop operating systems.

In November, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly approved a settlement in that case barring Microsoft from retaliating against or threatening computer manufacturers. The settlement, which two states are appealing, also compels Microsoft to share key technical data with competitors that allow their programs to run more smoothly with Microsoft operating systems.


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