Reader survey results: Who is right in the Sun-Microsoft lawsuit?

After listening to months of Sun-Microsoft bickering, SunWorld readers make their voices heard

December  1997
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In our October reader survey, we asked SunWorld readers what they thought of the Sun-Microsoft lawsuit. That month, Sun sued Microsoft, claiming that Bill & company had deliberately breached their contractual obligation to support the JDK 1.1 in Internet Explorer.

Well, SunWorld readers have spoken and they are unequivocal: Microsoft is wrong. Sun is right.

Over 91 percent of respondents, about half of whom are developers, found Sun's position on the lawsuit to be "with merit." A number of you had even read the Java contract, once it was made public. One reader said, "I have read the contract. I have experience with software contracts. Microsoft is clearly in breech. Which part of not modifying the java.* classes don't they understand?"

And while many of the comments we received fell ino the general category of "Microsoft bashing," most readers didn't seem to think of this as simply a Sun-Microsoft issue, but about the promise of Java itself. "I don't care who wins," wrote one reader. "I just want a standard set so the ideology behind `write once, run anywhere' will work."

Sun's other high-profile Java initiative, ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standardization received mixed reviews. In fact, more of you (42 percent) think Sun should not hand over control of Java to an international standards organization. Only 29 percent of those who responded were in favor of this. One reader felt that Java might "eventually" be ready for a standards body, but cautioned, "not now -- it's too soon, and we've already seen how detrimental standards committees can be -- just look at how C++ turned out."

And though there have been reports in the press about Java losing momentum, our readers seem to believe it will deliver on its "write once, run everywhere" promise - 60 percent say it will, compared to 13 percent who think not.

The number of respondents actually developing, or planning to develop, Java applications in-house did drop. In April, six months before this survey, 77 percent of those who responded to our JavaOne survey said they would be purchasing or developing Java apps for in-house use by October. Now, 57 percent say they have actually done so, with 18 percent planning a deployment in the next six months.

One thing is certain: This issue is important. The survey garnered the most response of any we've ever run, and the hundreds and hundreds of comments you had can all be found here. Check them out.

The results of the survey are printed below.

--Robert McMillan

Sun says that Microsoft has deliberately breached its contractual obligation by not supporting the complete JDK 1.1 in the shipping version of Internet Explorer. Microsoft says that it is in compliance with the contract and says that Sun is trying to force it to ship a whole new operating system on top of Windows. Well, you can't see the contract in dispute, but you can let Sun and Microsoft know what you think of this bickering.

Number of respondents: 1326

1. Sun's position is:

    With merit:                                                 91.4% 
    Without merit:                                               4.1% 
    Don't know:                                                  4.4% 

2. Microsoft's position is:

    With merit:                                                  9.3% 
    Without merit:                                              81.7% 
    Don't know:                                                  8.9% 

3. The lawsuit will be:

    Extremely good for Java:                                    21.8% 
    Good for Java:                                              35.8% 
    Bad for Java:                                               15.0% 
    Extremely bad for Java:                                      4.3% 
    Neither good nor bad for Java:                               9.9% 
    Don't know:                                                 13.4% 

4. Should Sun hand over control of Java to an International standards organization?

    Yes:                                                        29.0%
    No:                                                         41.6% 
    Maybe:                                                      26.5%
    Don't know:                                                  3.0% 

5. Sun says Microsoft's VM is not the reference implementation for the Windows platform. Should it be?

    Yes:                                                        27.5%
    No:                                                         56.3% 
    Don't know:                                                 16.2% 

6. Do you think this lawsuit will be settled in time to have a significant impact on the direction of Java?

    Yes:                                                        21.8% 
    No:                                                         45.8% 
    Don't know:                                                 32.4% 

7. As of today, do you think Java will fulfill its promise of delivering applications that can be "written once and run everywhere?"

    Yes:                                                        60.5%
    No:                                                         12.8%
    Maybe:                                                      25.7%
    Don't know:                                                  1.0% 

8. How has your opinion on question 7 changed in the last 12 months?

    I have become much more optimistic:                         17.4% 
    I have become more optimistic:                              28.5% 
    I have become more pessimistic:                             24.6% 
    I have become much more pessimistic:                         4.7% 
    I have not changed my opinion:                              24.9% 

9. Which best describes your primary job duties?

    Systems administrator:                                      12.9% 
    Programmer or developer:                                    47.1% 
    Network administrator:                                       2.8% 
    Database administrator:                                      0.7% 
    Systems analyst:                                             3.0% 
    Webmaster:                                                   2.9% 
    Consultant:                                                 10.8% 
    Systems integrator:                                          2.7% 
    Other technical professional:                                5.3% 
    Manager:                                                     4.3% 
    Student:                                                     5.4% 
    Other:                                                       2.1%

10. Is your company developing in-house applications with Java?

    Now:                                                        56.6%
    Not presently, but within the next six months:              18.0% 
    Within the next six to twelve months:                        9.3% 
    More than a year from now:                                   4.9% 
    Never:                                                       3.3% 
    I don't know:                                                7.9%

11. Is your company purchasing Java-centric applications for in-house use?

    Now:                                                        31.9% 
    Not presently, but within the next six months:              20.2% 
    Within the next six to twelve months:                       11.9% 
    More than a year from now:                                   5.4% 
    Never:                                                       4.0% 
    I don't know:                                               26.6%


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