WASHINGTON — The creator of a computer language that threatens the dominance of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows takes the stand today as the government's antitrust trial turns its attention to charges that the company illegally tried to crush the rival language, known as Java.
James Gosling, a vice president of Sun Microsystems Inc. who oversaw development of Java in 1995, alleged in 34 pages of direct testimony released Tuesday that Java was "seen as a threat to Microsoft's Windows PC operating system monopoly" because it can be used to write programs that run on any personal computer.
Microsoft saw Java's versatility as a threat, Gosling wrote in his direct testimony.
That assertion gained credence last month, when a U.S. District Court judge in San Jose made a preliminary ruling that Microsoft may have used unfair business practices to undermine Sun's efforts to develop Java.
Microsoft officials have downplayed the court ruling, calling it a technical decision arising out of a breach-of-contract lawsuit.
Microsoft contends that the Sun lawsuit will have no bearing on the landmark antitrust trial underway in Washington. The Justice Department, 20 states and the District of Columbia have accused the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant of illegally using Windows--which runs on more than 90% of all modern PCs--to extend its dominance to other technologies such as Internet software.
Nevertheless, the government has already used evidence unearthed in Sun's litigation with Microsoft. And government lawyers say they intend to use more.
In a buildup to Gosling's appearance, Frederick Warren-Boulton, an economist hired by the government, testified in court about the impact of Java and Netscape Communications' Internet browser on Microsoft.
"Microsoft clearly regarded Netscape as a direct threat to its operating system," Warren-Boulton testified.
He said Netscape's popular Navigator browser offered an alternative computing system to Windows and could become a vehicle for distributing programs written in Java.
Warren-Boulton ended five days of cross-examination Tuesday--longer than that of any other witness in the 7-week-old trial.