Microsoft and Sun Sign a Peace Treaty

Equipment leasing comes back, IBM does electronic payments for school, Microsoft gets hacked, Larry Ellison sells cheap computers, and more!
Joseph RadiganJanuary 24, 2001

Cease Fire!

The computer industry’s answer to the Hatfields and the McCoys, otherwise known as Microsoft and Sun Microsystems, ended their long-running legal battle over Microsoft’s license for Sun’s Java technology.

Microsoft said the settlement permits it to continue shipping all current products and those now in beta development containing Sun’s technology for seven years. In return, Microsoft will pay Sun $20 million.

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Microsoft, which obtained the Java license from Sun in March 1996, said that the agreement won’t affect its products or customers. The license was due to expire in two months. In the settlement, Microsoft agreed to accept Sun’s termination of the license and to a permanent injunction against unauthorized use of Sun’s “Java Compatible” trademark.

So, are these two bitter rivals about to kiss and make up? As they say in Flatbush, Fuhgeddaboudit! Just look at the canned statements both companies put out when they announced the deal.

In a press release from Sun Microsystems, chairman and CEO Scott McNealy said, “It’s pretty simple: This is a victory for our licensees and consumers. The community wants one Java technology: one brand, one process and one great platform. We’ve accomplished that, and this agreement further protects the authenticity and value of Sun’s Java technology.”

Oddly enough, McNealy’s opposite number at Microsoft, Bill Gates, was strangely silent. Two executives were quoted in Microsoft’s press statement, and one of them had the lowly title of deputy general counsel for litigation, and all he had to say was that “Microsoft is very pleased with the successful conclusion of this litigation. This settlement will not impact our customers or current products in any way and will allow us to focus our time and resources on what we do best: developing great software.”

Uh, guys, pardon us for asking, but if that’s so, why didn’t they just settle this thing years ago?

Meet the New Boss

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) picked M. Stuart Lynn as its next president and chief executive.

Lynn, a retired academic picked from a pool of 300 candidates, will take over as president of after the organization’s March meeting in Melbourne, Australia. He’ll replace Mike Roberts, who has served as president since October 1998.

You’ll Need a Bigger Mailbox

Promotional E-mail delivery will emerge over the next two years as a new revenue stream for large portals, Internet service providers and Web-mail providers according to a report from Jupiter Research, a market research firm that specializes in Internet commerce.

As E-mail marketing proliferates, Jupiter projects that ISPs and E-mail service providers will have approximately 5.6 billion E-mail messages cross their networks for each 1 million subscribers by 2005. Additionally, Jupiter predicts that advertisers will send 268 billion E-mail messages in 2005, 22 times the number of promotional marketing E-mails sent in 2000.

Lots and Lots of Leases

The economy might be on shaky ground, but the equipment leasing business is one segment of the economy that’s still rolling along, according to Heller Financial, a commercial finance company based in Chicago. Revenue is rising in the equipment leasing industry, according to a study Heller published Tuesday.

Lessors and vendors are both going to rely to an increasing degree on online transactions for leases under $100,000.

In addition, there’s a severe talent shortage in the business, with rivals raiding one another’s employees. Meanwhile, the equipment leasing market is expanding overseas to countries like Japan and Korea.

Back to School

IBM said on Tuesday that it has signed a deal with HigherMarkets, a privately held software company, to market Internet-based e- procurement services to colleges and universities. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

IBM’s Global Services group will help colleges and universities integrate HigherMarkets’ e- procurement applications with their enterprise resource planning systems.

One Ringie Dingie

Call centers using Cisco Systems’ customer contact software platform can now use Global Crossing’s IP network thanks to a deal between the two companies. The firms have agreed to work together on sales, marketing and technology sharing.

FBI! Stop or We’ll Click

According to Microsoft and CBS TV, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, will be the first dramatic series to have interactive programming content. The series was announced today at NATPE 2001 by Leslie Moonves, president and chief executive officer of CBS Television, and Bruce Leak, co-founder and president of Microsoft WebTV Networks. In addition, the companies will add interactive features to CBS’ coverage of NCAA basketball.

Perhaps the gumshoes on the CBS show will want to investigate the latest hacking attack against Microsoft. According to the Associated Press, the software giant’s New Zealand Web site was vandalized by a group called Prime Suspectz. According to, an organization that keeps track of corporate hacking attacks, the group has vandalized foreign sites of companies like eBay and Visa International.

It was unknown how much access hackers had to Microsoft’s systems in the latest incident, although the message left by Prime Suspectz did not indicate that it had done any more than deface the home page. Microsoft had no immediate comment.

Speed Demons

Motorola’s Broadband Communications Sector said it gained the exclusive rights to distribute Incognito Software’s Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol for high-speed Internet access to cable operators and vendors providing services to the cable industry.

Finders, Keepers

Oracle said on Tuesday that it is adding the Northern Light Technology search engine to its Oracle Portal Partner Initiative.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, you can find him moonlighting at The New Internet Computer Co., or NIC, which announced a deal with Internet access provider EarthLink at a California trade show on Tuesday.

As part of the agreement, EarthLink and NIC are working together to provide access to EarthLink’s Internet service via the NIC, which has a list price of $199.

An upgraded version of the NIC is scheduled to be introduced in early February the companies said.

Game Over?

Is Japanese video game maker Sega Corp. throwing in the towel? Reuters reported on Tuesday that the company will stop producing its Dreamcast game console by the end of March and will focus on developing and marketing game software instead. But a U.S. based spokesman for the company denied the report.

The Wednesday edition of the Japanese newspaper, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, originally broke the story and attributed the move to the severe competition from rivals like Nintendo and Sony Computer.

More Silicon Valley Pink Slips

Internet service and content provider ExciteAtHome said it is laying off 250 employees, or 8 percent of its total workforce of 3,000 people. Most of the cuts will come from the company’s online content divisions and are a reaction to the downturn in Internet advertising, according to a Reuters report.

The staff cuts will not affect the company’s AtHome or AtWork divisions, which provide high- speed Internet access over cable lines.

None of Your Business

A new president is in the White House, but Internet privacy is still a hot button political issue. Two members of Congress unveiled legislation on Tuesday providing some privacy protection for Internet users.

The bill, co-sponsored by Reps. Chris Cannon (R – UT) and Anna Eshoo (D – CA) would require Web sites to notify visitors how personal data such as telephone numbers and ZIP codes are used, and allow visitors to limit use of the data.

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