Microsoft's anti-trust fight continues as Sun and second state join battle

West Virginia is to join Massachusetts in appealing against last month's decision by US District Court Judge Colleen...

West Virginia is to join Massachusetts in appealing against last month's decision by US District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in the US government's antitrust case against Microsoft.

Microsoft announced the move as it faced Sun Microsystems in a pre-trial hearing today (3 December) about whether Microsoft should be forced to distribute a Sun-authorised version of Java with the Windows operating system.

The arguments are part of Sun's private antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft. Sun is asking the court for a preliminary injunction on the Java issue, in effect asking a judge to require Microsoft to distribute Sun's own Java plug-in for Windows XP with every copy of Windows and Internet Explorer, pending the final outcome of the lawsuit.

Sun filed its lawsuit in March, charging that Microsoft used its monopoly in PC operating systems to thwart acceptance of Java.

In its pre-trial motions, Sun argues that Microsoft has attempted to fragment the Java platform by distributing its own Virtual Machine for Java, which is incompatible with Sun's Java development products.

However, Microsoft pointed out that in November, in her ruling on remedies in the US government's antitrust case against Microsoft, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly struck down a similar request to include Java with Windows.

Nine states and the District of Columbia were pressing for harsher remedies than the terms of a settlement between Microsoft and the US Department of Justice. Kollar-Kotelly issued a ruling on remedies that largely accepted the settlement's terms.

Kollar-Kotelly rejected the Java remedy as "not good for competition and, consequently, not good for consumers," said Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler.

"It gives a court-sanctioned, specific advantage to Sun, and there are other Java virtual machines out there. Not only does it circumvent competition with Microsoft, but it circumvents competition with other companies."

The Sun case and other private cases, including that brought by AOL Time Warner, are not expected to go to trial until the second half next year.

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