Sun's Schwartz Rails Against Microsoft Decision To Pull JVM Products

Sun's software chief blasted Microsoft and its decision to pull the plug on all products that use the Microsoft Java Virtual Machine on December 23.

December 18, 2003

3 Min Read
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Sun's software chief blasted Microsoft and its decision to pull the plug on all products that use the Microsoft Java Virtual Machine on December 23.

In an open letter distributed on Thursday, Jonathan Schwartz, Executive Vice President of Sun's Software Group, accused Microsoft of being disingenuous with customers about why it retired Windows 98, Office 2000 Developer and many other products as a result of a court case in which Sun prevailed.

"It's a lesson in how a company with legendary market dominance can lose sight of customer priorities, and force an unnecessary transition onto a customer base already paralyzed with viruses and security breaches," Schwartz wrote. "Publicly, Microsoft says Sun forced its hand. Yet, they overlooked that this issue was part of a settlement it agreed to and Sun extended until September of next year.

He claims Microsoft is trying to force upgrades. In the same letter, however, Sun took the opportunity to pitch its own Java Desktop System Linux desktop to Microsoft customers using those products who may decide to migrate to newer Microsoft software - or alternatives.

"So apparently without consulting customers, partners or ISV's, Microsoft has unilaterally elected to pull their products from the market, then blamed it on Sun," Schwartz added. "Sun has offered, and will continue to offer, a license to Java technology that would spare Microsoft any transition whatsoever so long as Microsoft maintains compatibility [with Sun's Java."In a recent interview, Microsoft executives said sales of its products using the Microsoft Java Virtual Machine (MSJVM) will be cut off next week but technical support will continue to be provided based on the company's existing policies. It will provide support on the JVM until next September.

These executives denied there is any upgrade motive and said Windows 98 Second Edition and some versions of Office 2000 will remain on the market.

When asked why the company didn't opt to just remove the JVM from the discontinued products and media, one development executive said the technical changes, repackaging and redistributing of the older products would be too time- consuming and expensive.

"The products are right at the end of their lifecycle and it would be an exceptional amount of work to fix the setup, media and do re-testing [of the software without the JVM," claimed Tony Goodhew, a product manager in Microsoft's developer division.

He also noted, however, that Microsoft will re-release select products without the JVM including Small Business Server 2000, Office XP Professional with FrontPage and Windows NT 4.0.The remainder of Schwartz' letter smacked more of an advertisement for Enterprise Java Desktop than a slam on Microsoft, whose upgrade cycle beenfitted from the multi-year Java duel with Sun.

Microsoft opted to develop its own Java virtual machine rather than use Sun's native Java machine, a decision that resulted in years of litigation between the two that culminated in a settlement in 2001.

Still, Sun, armed with recent wins for its new Enterprise Java Desktop with the Chinese Government and the United Kingdom, hopes to have the last laugh.

"While Microsoft scapegoats Sun, the world is discovering the wonders of Sun's Java Desktop System - which delivers all the functionality of a Windows environment, at a tenth the price, and with ten times the security," the letter concluded, pointing out the wins with Chinese Government and United Kingdom's National Health Service and Office of Government Commerce discovered it. "Sun's Java Desktop System delivers an engaging, very low cost alternative to the proprietary Microsoft platform - which you can deploy without retraining, or fear of incompatibility."

Schwartz ended the letter with a strong pitch for customers to defect to Linux."So the next time an IT provider comes at you with a unilateral decision, no matter their market power, remember just one thing, customers always, always, have a right to choose," he wrote. "We encourage you to exercise that right and eagerly await an opportunity to help."

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