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In brief: VeriSign suit calls ICANN obstructionist

Mar 01, 20044 mins

Plus: Oracle to contest Justice over PeopleSoft; IBM, Sun wrangle over Java; Microsoft ponders ways to add new features to XP; AT&T tries to reduce costs

VeriSign last week filed a lawsuit against the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, accusing the organization of overstepping its authority and improperly attempting to regulate VeriSign’s business.

VeriSign alleges that ICANN, by straying from its charter and agreement to be a technical coordination body, has improperly attempted to become the “de facto regulator of the domain name system and in doing so stifled the introduction of new services that benefit Internet users and promote the growth of the Internet,” VeriSign said.

VeriSign accuses ICANN of dragging its feet on letting VeriSign offer new services such as a wait-list service for expired domain names and internationalized domain names in non-English characters, a VeriSign spokesman said. VeriSign also disputes ICANN’s objections that forced it to take down its Site Finder Internet search service, said Tom Galvin, VeriSign’s vice president of government relations. ICANN did not have an immediate response.

n Oracle last week said it will “vigorously challenge” the Department of Justice’s lawsuit seeking to block its attempted takeover of rival PeopleSoft. It also said it will withdraw the slate of nominees it put forward for election to PeopleSoft’s board at the company’s upcoming shareholder meeting. The Justice Department indicated earlier it was likely to object to the deal, and Oracle’s decision to battle the agency in court came as no surprise to many. Its move to drop its push for seats on PeopleSoft’s board was a more unexpected twist.

IBM and Sun have a new favorite weapon in the public wrangling over Java development leadership: the open letter. IBM’s Rod Smith, vice president of emerging technologies for the company’s software group, fired off the latest salvo last week, jumping on Sun technology evangelist Simon Phipps’ suggestion at the recent EclipseCon that IBM give its Java implementation to the open source community. IBM has for years encouraged Sun to open source Java, and Smith took advantage of Phipps’ comment to again push that agenda. “Here is the offer: IBM would like to work with Sun on an independent project to open source Java,” he wrote. “IBM is ready to provide technical resources and code for the open source Java implementation while Sun provides the open source community with Sun materials, including Java specifications, tests and code.”

Sun did not have an immediate response to IBM’s tossed gauntlet. The company fired off its own open letter on Java development recently, when it reiterated its decision not to join the IBM-backed development efforts around the Eclipse open source platform.

Microsoft is pondering ways to add features to Windows XP after the release of Service Pack 2 later this year. The discussions, under the project name Windows XP Reloaded, could result in an interim release of Windows before Longhorn.

Such a release would represent a strategy change for Microsoft, but not an entirely unexpected one. Gartner analysts have predicted that Microsoft would offer an interim release of Windows to placate customers who signed up for its Software Assurance licensing program, which provides three-year contracts for software maintenance and upgrades.

 “We’re looking at what our options are in terms of delivering what our development team creates in terms of new technologies to our customers,” says Greg Sullivan, a Microsoft product manager. “This is not an announcement of a second edition of Windows XP. There is a range of options.”

AT&T last week reinforced its message of reducing costs while fighting to keep customers at the carrier’s first financial analyst meeting in three years. AT&T Chairman and CEO David Dorman opened the day by promoting the carrier’s successes in process remediation, reducing complexity and costs in its network by decommissioning 160 legacy systems and further head count reductions for 2004. Like most carriers, it is struggling to turn around revenue declines by improving internal operations.

But last month when AT&T announced its fourth-quarter earnings, it was clear that AT&T also was losing business customers. Bill Hannigan, who took the reins as president in December, says the carrier is doing everything it can to keep its existing customers and bring in new businesses.