Microsoft will stop distributing several older products next week as a result of a legal settlement with Sun Microsystems in a dispute over Java.
Among the products Microsoft will cut from its distribution channels on December 15 are all versions of Windows 98 except Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows NT 4.0 Terminal Server Edition, all Office 2000 editions, Office XP Developer edition, and SQL Server 7, says Tony Goodhew, a product manager in Microsoft's developer division.
"There is a list of products that we can no longer ship as of January 2, 2004, because they include a version of the Microsoft virtual machine that we are no longer able to distribute as part of our settlement with Sun," Goodhew says.
Java is a programming language that allows developers to write applications that can run on any computer regardless of its operating system. Microsoft's virtual machine enables users to run Java applications on Windows PCs. Other vendors, including Sun, also make virtual machines for Windows.
By the end of the year, Microsoft will update some of its products without the virtual machine, so it can continue to distribute them under terms of the settlement, Goodhew says. They are the Workstation, Server, and Enterprise Server editions of Windows NT 4.0; Office XP Professional Edition with FrontPage; Small Business Server 2000; ISA Server 2000; and Publisher 2002, he says.
The companies settled a three-year-old breach of contract lawsuit in January 2001. Sun, creator of Java, had accused Microsoft of violating a licensing and distribution agreement by distributing a version of Java that was not compatible with Sun's.
As part of the settlement, Microsoft paid Sun $20 million and agreed to retire products that include its allegedly incompatible Java distribution.
Earlier this year, Microsoft and Sun agreed to extend another deadline related to the settlement. This deal allowed Microsoft to continue supporting its virtual machine until September 30, 2004, to give its customers more time to stop using the software. However, Microsoft has decided to phase out the products now.
"After [September 30, 2004] we will not be able to modify the virtual machine for any reason, including security," Goodhew says. "We will not ship products that include a piece of software we cannot provide security fixes for."
Though the products will no longer be available in the channel or for download from Microsoft's Developer Network (MSDN), current customers can still use them, Goodhew says. Also, customers can continue to buy additional licenses--for example, to install the products on more computers from a current CD or a corporate network.
"This is not making anyone upgrade. If you are a company and you decide that you need another Windows 98 license for some reason, you will be able to get another license," he says.
The full list of products that Microsoft will retire from the channel as of Dec. 15, according to a posting in a Microsoft newsgroup, are: Office XP Developer, Visio 2000, BackOffice Server 2000, Office 2000 Developer, Office 2000 Tools, Office 2000 Multilingual, Office 2000 Premium SR-1, Office 2000 Service Pack 2, Outlook 2000, Project 2000, SQL Server 7, SQL Server 7 Service Pack 3, Embedded Visual Tools 3.0, Visual Studio 6 MSDE, Internet Explorer 5.5, MapPoint 2002, Visual Studio 6.0 SP3 and SP5, Windows 98, Windows 98 Y2K, Windows 98 Resource Kit, Windows 98 SP1, Windows NT 4.0 Terminal Server and Option Pack, and Visual Basic for Alpha Systems.