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A JVM is software that enables users to run applications written in Java, the programming language created by Sun Microsystems. Windows XP shipped without Java support but included a download-on-demand feature, under which the JVM is automatically downloaded when Windows needs it.
Sun filed a private federal antitrust suit against Microsoft in March, accusing the software maker of using its monopoly in the market for PC operating systems to undermine the success of Java. In response, Microsoft is now adding Java to XP, said Jim Cullinan, a spokesman for Microsoft.
"In order to remove this legal issue, we are no longer going to offer the download feature but instead make JVM part of the default installation of XP through Service Pack 1," Cullinan said. That first update to Windows XP is scheduled for release in the second half of this year. Service Pack 1 also features security updates and compatibility fixes, most of them already available as separate downloads.
However, the JVM will not be available with Windows indefinitely. From January 2004 Microsoft will not be allowed to change any of the code in its JVM because of an agreement with Sun, Cullinan said. "Therefore we will no longer offer Java in Windows from January of 2004," he said.
Sun called Microsoft's "about-face decision" a win for consumers and software developers who work in Java. However, the company derided Microsoft's promise to cease distribution of a Java runtime in two years, calling it an effort "to deny the Java platform's access to Microsoft's monopoly distribution channels".
Sun also noted that Microsoft is using its own JVM rather than the later versions of the technology developed by Sun - part of the crux of the companies' litigation. Sun promised to maintain a free, downloadable Java runtime resource.