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Technology Stocks : Wintel's Demise
MSFT 245.47-0.8%3:59 PM EST

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To: jim kelley who wrote (320)10/9/1997 9:55:00 AM
From: Michael Olin   of 328
 
Mircosoft is not compelled to create a franchise for Java. It can simply choose not to include Java in its products. Microsoft went through the trouble of negotiating a license agreemnt with Sun because it felt that there was some value to including Java in its browser. Now Sun wants Microsoft to comply with the terms (granted, we're talking about Sun's interpretation of those terms) of the agreement they negotiated.

This is not unfamiliar territory for Microsoft. There was significant speculation about a year ago regarding the all but assured demise (then) of Citrix. They had licensed the NT source code from Microsoft and created a multi-user NT product based on NT 3.51. They did a pretty good job and developed quite a following. To everyone's surprise (gasp!), the rumours started flying that Microsoft was going to end its alliance with Citrix and not license the NT 4 code to them. Now, Citrix, with the alliance renewed, will see their technology included in NT 5. How long will it be before they are completely absorbed by Microsoft? Microsoft is expert at freezing the competition with creative licensing (or no licensing at all). Or how about licensing an API and neglecting to document some useful and surprisingly efficient routines?

While the average consumer may actually think that he has purchased a product when he licenses software, Microsoft, Sun and all of the others know exactly what they are doing when they license someone else's technology. Microsoft is trying an end run around the promise of a write-once run-anywhere environment that people see in Java. Sun knows this, and incorporated terms into its license agreement to prevent Microsoft from distributing a "Java" that only works in a Microsoft environment.

Let Microsoft develop its own cafe-au-lait that runs Java programs without using any of Sun's proprietary technology. How long will the rest of the industry wait? Do you really think that if Gates announced this afternoon that Microsoft is becoming a Java-free company the rest of the industry would applaud and follow along? Java has serious momentum. Microsoft needs to stop it in order to perpetuate its monopoly on the desktop.

All the courts have to do on this one is determine if Microsoft is complying with the terms of an agreement that it negotiated. The marketplace will decide if it wants Java or not. Sun gets to decide who can use their coffee cup logo (do you think Microsoft would be happy if I decided to skip their Windows compatible logo program and just labelled my software with "this software will run on computers using a Windows product from Microsoft" ?), just as Microsoft controls the flying windows logo.

-Michael
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