• United States

Microsoft, Sun split Java ruling

Jun 30, 20034 mins

Plus: WLAN chips to drop in price; ICANN approves ‘Net framework; and more.

An appeals court has reversed a lower-court ruling that Microsoft must distribute a version of Java endorsed by Sun.

But the appeals court also affirmed a ruling saying Microsoft violated Sun’s copyright by distributing its own version of the Java programming language. Both companies claimed victory after the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announced its decision, another step in Sun’s private antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft. The district court erred by requiring Microsoft to carry the Sun-compatible version of Java with its operating systems and browser products because there was no proof that Sun would suffer “immediate irreparable harm” without the order, Appeals Court Judge Paul Niemeyer wrote.

A Microsoft spokesman called the ruling a “positive step,” saying the must-carry Java order was the key issue. As for the copyright infringement order, Microsoft already complied in February, replacing the service pack Windows XP SP1 with a new service pack that excludes Microsoft’s Java virtual machine. Sun officials said they are exploring their options on the must-carry Java decision.

Wireless LAN chips will plummet in price and show up in almost all notebook PCs by 2007, according to a recent study by IDC. “We think it’s going to be integrated into most notebooks at that point, at a minimum extra charge, if any,” says Ken Furer, an analyst at IDC. The research firm estimates that most notebooks will have WLAN capability built in by 2005, and by 2007, 98% will come with it.

Furer predicts 91% of those systems will be equipped with 802.11a/b/g chipsets, which let users log on to LANs that use 54M bit/sec 802.11a and 802.11g technologies and those that use 11M bit/sec 802.11b. This year, about 42% of notebooks will ship with WLAN capability included.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has approved a framework for the formation of local, regional and global groups, in what the organization says is a step toward more involvement from the user community in decisions affecting how the Internet is run. ICANN is the nonprofit organization responsible for coordinating the Internet’s domain names and addresses and other policy issues related to the ‘Net’s technical functions.

However, the group has come under fire almost since its inception for being overly bureaucratic and ineffective. “These groups will ensure that the voice of different sectors of the Internet community will be more distinctly heard and that their representation will be effectively taken into account when ICANN takes action on issues of interest to the user community,” says Paul Twomey, ICANN president and CEO. The issues include privacy in the Whois database, and the introduction of new domain names and internationalized domain names, ICANN says.

Oracle’s aggressive bid for PeopleSoft is just the beginning of what might signal a new strategy for the company in which it quickly gains ground in the slipping enterprise applications market by scooping up competitors, an Oracle executive hinted last week.

“If consolidation is going to happen, we’d rather drive it than watch it,” said Chuck Phillips, Oracle’s executive vice president in the office of the CEO, during a press briefing at the company’s AppsWorld conference in London. Phillips, who recently was recruited to Oracle after years on Wall Street as an analyst covering enterprise software, confirmed that his addition to the company helped mark the strategy change.

His comments came one day after Oracle Chairman and CEO Larry Ellison left the door open for a further increase in its already-sweetened bid to acquire PeopleSoft. “Never say never,” Ellison said during a keynote address at AppsWorld when asked about the possibility of an increase to Oracle’s $6.3 billion unsolicited offer for PeopleSoft.

The Recording Industry Association of America soon will begin gathering evidence for use in what could be “thousands of lawsuits” against individual music-file swappers, the organization said last week. The RIAA cited its efforts to educate the public about the illegality of file swapping and the easy availability of legal downloading services as precursors to its new effort to target individual file swappers who, it contends, are engaged in piracy.