Microsoft and Sun Microsystems will today begin their legal struggle over who controls the future of Java. The hearings, which are scheduled to last for three days, could have a bearing on the outcome of Microsoft's forthcoming legal battle with the US Department of Justice.
The dispute specifically centres on a March 1996 contract that gave Microsoft the right to include Java in its own products, such as Windows and Internet Explorer. Sun claims that Microsoft broke this agreement by improperly altering Java so that it would run more effectively on Microsoft platforms.
Sun is against this as it believes it defeats the key plank of Java: its cross platform compatibility. Sun accuses Microsoft of "abusing its monopoly power in operating systems software to defeat the cross-platform compatibility of Sun's Java technology."
Microsoft's Java strategy has also been cited in the US Department of Justice's antitrust suit against it.
Sun will apply on Thursday for an injunction forcing Microsoft to halt shipments of Windows 98, to prevent Microsoft's version of Java shipping. However, legal experts have warned that this is unlikely to be granted.
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