Microsoft claims that Sun Microsystems lost its right to complain about Big Green?s alleged breach of its Java licensing agreement after the software giant paid Sun $3.75 million to use the programming language.
But, in papers released elsewhere by the courts, it appeared that Microsoft not only attempted to undermine the Java effort by looking into developing alternatives to the language, but also considered the possibility of teaming up with Novell to create Java application programming interfaces (APIs) that could have damaged Sun?s server based Java efforts.
Microsoft put forward its case against Sun in court papers filed with the US District Court in the Northern District of California on Friday. It opposed Sun?s request for a preliminary injunction to prevent it shipping Windows 98 and its Java based development tools, arguing that the move would cause "immense harm" to distributors, ISVs, users and itself.
It attested that its products comply with all the test suites specified by Sun in the licence deal that it signed, but acknowledged that they do not conform to those introduced by Sun after the fact because that was not part of the original agreement.
Lastly, Big Green cited a legal precedent, attesting that, because Sun continued to receive payments for the Java contract, including $3.75 million in May, despite knowing about Microsoft?s alleged breach of contract, its demands are now void.
The filing stated: "Sun cannot deny that it knew about Microsoft?s alleged breach [of contract] when it accepted the [licence fee] payment. Sun has waived its right to complain of the alleged breach."
But, according to newly unsealed documents, Microsoft has been waging war against Java for some time, and even looked at plans to marry Java and C++ to create a new language that could rival the former.
In an email dated 19 May, 1997 from Anders Hjelsberg, designer of Microsoft?s Visual J++ Java development tool to Bill Gates, Microsoft?s chairman, Hjelsberg proposed extending Java to build a 'cleaned up' version of C++ , which would provide users with the ease of use and productivity of Java, but the flexibility of the lower level features of C.
His intention was to extend Java?s byte code instruction set rather than generating native code, which enables portability across different chipsets.
"Since the extensions would bring Java on a par with C with respect to language features, there would be much less need to write native code, which would simplify development and debugging. The contentious issue with these extensions is obviously that they 'pollute the language' and we have to be very careful how we frame them," Hjelsberg?s email explained.
Meanwhile, according to other documents, Gates and Eric Schmidt, former chief technology officer at Sun and current chief executive at Novell, met last summer to discuss a possible collaboration over developing APIs for a server based version of Java.
This meeting was followed by others between Novell?s and Microsoft?s Java architects and business development staff.
According to papers about the later meeting, which were recorded by Charles Fitzgerald, Microsoft?s group manager, Novell proposed that the two organisations work on standard APIs for file and print, directory services, security, licensing, database transactions, message queuing and management.
Despite its so-called 'Java First' policy, Novell, according to the report, had said it was "frustrated with Javasoft?s lack of speed, resource limits and the ?butthead? factor of its engineers. Displayed some animosity to Sun [JavaSoft?s president, Alan] Baratz in particular. Eventually came out and said that if Microsoft and Novell support the same APIs, it will be the standard."
But Fitzgerald emailed Gates to say he could not see the benefit to Microsoft in working with Novell because "Java only common APIs for NT and Netware give them a developer story that undermines our Win32 advantage...A conspiracy theorist could argue that this is Schmidt trying to get Microsoft as invested in Java as possible."
Gates responded: "Windows is popular enough that if they declare a standard, they will need to do the work to support it on Windows without our being involved. We do NOT want to ship the ?standard? with Windows because we want to make the native APIs more attractive."
He continued: "It always makes sense for us to go to meetings like this to understand what the other companies are thinking, but there is nothing here for us. The whole purpose of this is to undermine the Windows asset. We do need to figure out how to minimise the number of companies - particularly ISVs - who get behind these Java server efforts, but there is no way to keep Sun or Novell out?Since we want to ship all the middleware value integrated with Windows NT, the conclusion is the same - Java standard server APIs are bad news for us."
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