The News – 01/24/01
Microsoft and Sun Settle Java Suit
The long national nightmare
is over. Sun has won, unequivocably and convincingly. In an extraordinary
press release, Sun makes some very bold statements about the Java conflict
between the two computing giants:
Microsoft realized it needed to offer the Java
technology to its developers and customers. But the technology also
threatened Microsoft's monopoly hold on the desktop operating system market
because the technology can be used to develop applications and products
that are not dependent on the Windows operating system.
to this issue was to license the technology from Sun in 1996, promising to
deliver only compatible implementations of the technology. But Microsoft
broke its promise, and began distributing incompatible implementations so
that applications written to those implementations would run only on
Sun repeatedly asked
Microsoft to stop shipping incompatible implementations of the Java
technology. Microsoft refused. As a result, Sun terminated the Technology
Licensing and Distribution Agreement.
Holy Mackerel! This is
pretty harsh, especially considering the two companies continue to do
business together. I wonder if this language was approved by Microsoft
before publication. The company takes a different tone in its PR:
very pleased with the successful conclusion of this litigation," said
Tom Burt, deputy general counsel for litigation at Microsoft. "This
settlement will not impact our customers or current products in any way and
will allow us to focus our time and resources on what we do best: developing great software."
The license agreement
and the settlement agreement confirm Microsoft's freedom to independently
develop technology that competes with Sun's technology.
Anyway, Sun gloating aside,
this agreement is really good for the Web and its users. Not only does it
ensure that developers can develop to one Java standard (eventually, once
Microsoft brings its version of Java into compliance, which could take
seven years), but it is the first time I can recall that Microsoft’s “embrace/extend/co-opt”
approach to competing standards has failed. Perhaps this heralds a new
attitude out of Redmond, or maybe just a recognition on Microsoft’s part
that they won’t be able to implement their very ambitious .NET initiative
without the cooperation of other vendors. Microsoft’s effort to get SOAP accepted
as an XML standard may be other evidence of this shift in approach.
Whatever the reason, this
landmark agreement, in which Microsoft pays the token (!) amount of $20M to
Sun, indicates that the future of the Web will continue to be interesting.
And you may recall the Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.”
Those Crazy Democrats!
I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for
pranksters, so I have to admire those merry outgoing White House staffers
who stole all the ‘W’s from the White House computer keyboards! Reading
about this made me laugh out loud (LOL).
What’s even funnier, in a way, is the fact
that OfficeMax recognized this prank as a PR opportunity. The office
supplies company is donating 100 new keyboards, and 500 ‘W’ keys to stem
the crisis. Their press release is priceless:
Michael Feuer, OfficeMax's chairman and chief
executive officer, said, "This bi-partisan move is a reflection of
Corporate America's sense of urgency and desire to 'Ask not what your
country can do for you, but instead, what can we do for our country?'"
The keyboards, manufactured by Logitech, feature
a full assortment of the complete alphabet of 26 letters, including the
"W." The Company said providing
the extra supply of "W" keys is added protection in the event
there are any similar reoccurring problems in other agencies of the
A bi-partisan move!
I love it! Extra ‘W’s in case of copycat crimes! Who says government is
Now I wonder if the Logitech marketing
department is getting a kick in the butt by the CEO for allowing OfficeMax
to capitalize on this opportunity?