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Time for MS to Coexist More Peacefully With Sun         and Java?
Time for MS to Coexist More Peacefully With Sun         and Java?

(November 12, 2001) - Do Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer's remarks at this week's shareholders' meeting in Seattle herald the beginning of a new era of tolerance and acceptance of rival platforms, including Java? This is the question the whole IT world is considering, after Ballmer declared, referring to its three-year antitrust case: "We understand, based on the fact that our industry didn't rally to support us, that we need to change the way we relate to our industry."

Ballmer also told the assembled MS shareholders in Seattle that Microsoft has to invest and work with smaller companies, strengthen its partnerships with independent software makers and retailers, and build better relationships with larger companies. It was this last category that made people think of Sun, since the recent MS settlement with the DoJ and nine states is supposed to end forever the "dirty war" which spurred IT execs from Sun (as well as Intel and AOL Time Warner) to testify against Microsoft.

The world's largest software maker used the occasion of the shareholders' meeting to appoint a new vice-president in charge of changing Microsoft's corporate culture and developing ties with partners, customers, and competitors. Can leopards change their spots? William H. Gates III not only purports to believe so, but he even went so far as to say that the antitrust case had overshadowed some of the "best work" Microsoft has ever done. He's hoped for years, he said, that the company could reach a settlement with the DoJ that would eliminate the legal uncertainties and let investors focus once again on Microsoft's business. He didn't mention Java programmers specifically, but it can only be a matter of time before Scott McNealy is back on the Microsoft Christmas card list. Perhaps it will even feature a leopard carrying a giant JVM.

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