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Is Microsoft Attacking Sun or Protecting Consumers?

by Thor Olavsrud

In a move that has Java developers up in arms, Microsoft Corp. dropped support of the cross-platform Java language in the recent beta version -- Release Candidate 1 (RC 1) -- of its new Windows XP operating system.

In a move that has Java developers up in arms, Microsoft Corp. dropped support of the cross-platform Java language in the recent beta version -- Release Candidate 1 (RC 1) -- of its new Windows XP operating system.

Also, Windows XP's default security settings in Outlook and Outlook Express block Java applets in user inboxes, and the company has changed security definitions to block Java applets in browsers when administrators opt for high security settings -- the default settings for the OS.

Java, developed by long-time Microsoft rival Sun Microsystems, is a popular platform for the creation of animation and interactive features for the Web. Java requires the installation of a plug-in called a Java Virtual Machine before it will run on a user's computer. The plug-in is widely available for download on the Web and also frequently ships with Java-enabled software.

Although Java was not included with RC 1, as it has been with previous versions of Windows, a user running RC 1 could still install a Java Virtual Machine. However, Windows XP's default security settings would still block many Java applets from running.

Microsoft has long viewed Java's ability to run on multiple operating systems -- including those that run mobile devices like PDAs -- as a threat to its Windows product line and its .NET platform, which has capabilities similar to Java's. Microsoft's maneuverings against Sun and Java were part of the foundation of the government's antitrust case against Microsoft. Three weeks ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia