Various Sun executives were so worried about the wording of the Java contract that was signed with Microsoft that the head of the company?s Javasoft unit had to order them to "stop worrying", according to court documents.
The situation came to light when parts of a 101-page transcript of a court hearing, held behind closed doors on 10 September, were unsealed earlier this week, following requests from various publishing houses. Charles Quackenbush, Microsoft?s lawyer, quoted email from Alan Baratz, president of Javasoft, advising that staff "ought to stop reading the contract".
A Sun spokeswoman said the email was necessary because too many employees were becoming armchair lawyers when they were not involved in the lawsuit. But, the interpretation of the contract is central to Sun?s case against Big Green, and Quackenbush argued that "when Sun?s executives were trying to figure out what the contract meant, they read it the same way Microsoft does".
He also accused Sun of setting up the so-called 'Gang of Four' alliance, which included Oracle, Netscape and IBM, to try to destroy Microsoft?s dominance of the desktop operating system market.
He followed the statement up by hinting at Sun?s alleged strategy for Java. This, he claimed, was signalled when Bill Joy, Sun?s co-founder, wrote the word Wintel in a document, drew a circle around it and then put a line through it. One of the legal strategists deemed the Wintel doodle a trade or strategy secret and as a result had edited it out of earlier versions of the document.
"The strategy for Sun is not about choice. The strategy for Sun is not about competing operating systems. The strategy for Sun is a Java operating system running on a Java chip with Java applications, all controlled by Sun," he concluded.
On the other hand, further evidence appears to indicate that Microsoft was also trying to kill Sun. According to the unsealed parts of testimony from Lloyd Day, Sun?s lawyer, one Microsoft executive had written an email saying the software giant wanted "to kill cross platform Java and grow the polluted Java market". It intended to do this by cutting the prices of its Java development tools to below those of other products to woo programmers over to its Windows-only offering.
Day argued that Microsoft had tried to grow its market share "by setting an extremely low price point and targetting this with an extremely lowly priced academic version. They want to turn this product in to institutions around the country to get as many young developers using this tool as possible".
He also cited documents from a Microsoft 'Think Week' in October 1996 when chief executive Bill Gates allegedly questioned "what our OS, Windows, will offer to Java client applications code that will make them unique enough to preserve our market position".
A Microsoft spokesman played down the correspondence, however, claiming it was akin to "water cooler conversations".
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