Microsoft to stop offering host of older products

It tied the move to a legal settlement with Sun over Java

Microsoft Corp. will stop distributing several older products next week as a result of a legal settlement with Sun Microsystems Inc. in a dispute over Java, Microsoft said.

Among the products that Microsoft will cut from its distribution channels on Dec. 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, Tony Goodhew, a product manager in Microsoft's developer division, said yesterday.

"There is a list of products that we can no longer ship as of Jan. 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 said.

By the end of the year, Microsoft will release updated versions of some of its products without the virtual machine, so that it can continue to distribute them, Goodhew said. 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 said.

The companies settled a 3-year-old breach-of-contract lawsuit in January 2001 that Sun had filed against Microsoft. Sun, the creator of Java, had accused Microsoft of violating a licensing and distribution agreement by distributing a version of Java that wasn't compatible with Sun's.

As part of the settlement, Microsoft paid Sun $20 million and agreed to a plan 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. That agreement allowed Microsoft to continue supporting its virtual machine until Sept. 30 to give its customers more time to stop using the software. However, the vendor decided to phase out the products now.

"As part of our settlement and license extension with Sun, we can only modify the Microsoft virtual machine until Sept. 30, 2004," Goodhew said. "After that date, we will not be able to modify the virtual machine for any reason, including security. 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 through the retail channel or for download from Microsoft's Developer Network, current users will still be able to use them, Goodhew said. Also, users can continue to buy licenses for the products -- for example, to install them on more computers from a current CD or a corporate network, he said.

"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," Goodhew said.

The full list of products that Microsoft will retire, according to a posting in a Microsoft news group, includes the following: 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 (SP) 2, Outlook 2000, Project 2000, SQL Server 7, SQL Server 7 SP 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, ISA Server 2000, and Visual Basic for Alpha Systems.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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