Microsoft yanks 10 old patches down

Microsoft pulls old patches down that distributed the Microsoft Java Virtual Machine

With nearly no explanation, Microsoft sent out an alert notifying customers that it was removing download information for 10 security patches "because Microsoft Java Virtual Machine is no longer available for distribution from Microsoft." The revised bulletins are rated as critical and affect patches from the years 1999 through 2003.

The affected patches are: MS03-011, MS02-069, MS02-052, MS02-013, MS00-081, MS00-075, MS00-059, MS00-011, MS99-045, MS99-031.

But the timing is odd. The Microsoft Java Virtual Machine (MSJVM) was a technology included in some versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer and Windows that let Java applets run in the browser or on a Windows machine. It was the subject of a giant legal battle between Microsoft and Sun, with Sun accusing Microsoft of altering its virtual machine so that Java applets couldn't properly function on Microsoft's platforms (and rightly so).

But way back in 2004, the two settled the dispute, with Microsoft agreeing to no longer distribute the MSJVM and agreeing to end support for it on December 31, 2007. The terms of the agreement meant that support of Java would come from Microsoft's .Net technologies and that Microsoft would work with Sun to ensure that Java applets ran on .Net.

It is sheer speculation as to why, on July 1 2009, Microsoft has suddenly discovered, and removed, software that contained the MSJVM. Can this have anything to do with the pending sale of Sun to Oracle? In April, the latest scuffle between the proprietary and open source worlds was more remarks about the so-called ownership of Linux, made by none other than industry pundit Rob Enderle. He seemed to think that much of the code in Linux belongs to Sun, and therefore will soon be owned by Oracle, who will turn around and use its so-called power to control Linux.

If Oracle, a company almost as litigious as Microsoft, will be thinking it owns Linux, and knowing it owns Java, it would not do for Microsoft to be found in violation of a five-year old agreement between Microsoft and Sun over Java.

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