Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

Java battle resurrected over Internet Explorer 6.0

Out-Law News | 28 Aug 2001 | 12:00 am | 1 min. read

Microsoft has this week released the latest version of its dominant internet browser, Internet Explorer 6.0, without support for Java, the programming language developed by Sun Microsystems, its latest move in a long running dispute between the two companies.

Java was developed by Sun in 1995 as a language which operates independently of the platform on which it runs, making it ideal for the internet. However, to operate, the internet browser needs to support the language, which it does with software known as the Java virtual machine. Until this latest release from Microsoft, both IE and rival browser Netscape Navigator included a Java virtual machine.

Sun and Microsoft previously fought in court over Microsoft’s prior use of Java trade marks and technology. As part of an out-of-court settlement, Microsoft said it would stop including new versions of Java, rather than paying for a licence, which upset Sun. Sun wanted it to keep giving users a Java virtual machine. Microsoft has now dropped Java completely.

This means that IE 6.0 users will have to download a patch to see web pages made using Java, unless they are upgrading from a previous version of IE which would have included the Java Virtual Machine. Certain plug-ins, such as QuickTime, the music and video player, will not work unless the developer of the site running the application makes certain changes. Microsoft is instead supporting its own equivalent technology in IE 6.0, called ActiveX. Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan said the decision was taken to increase security.

Sun is has responded angrily to Microsoft’s decision to drop all support for Java. It has taken out adverts in US national papers, encouraging people to lobby Microsoft to reinstate some Java support.