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Over six sessions of cross-examination of Gosling, but what did it gain Microsoft? Was the court even paying attention until the final session?
Dr. James Gosling, PhD., created the Java language. He is now Vice President, a Sun Fellow, and the Chief Scientist of the Java Software Division. He maintained throughout his testimony that he performed a primarily engineering, technical role and was not directly involved with the Java licensing negotiations with Microsoft, the 100% Pure Java marketing program, or other high-level strategic or marketing decisions in Sun. This allowed him to evade directly answering tough questions about Suns strategy when dealing with Microsoft and Suns general Java strategy. He had been so busy with the trial that he had detached himself from a Java industry debate over adding a new keyword to the Java source code language, 10am29, and his preparation showed throughout his testimony. He was very good at deflecting criticisms of Java and concentrating on its strengths, and was unequivocal when stating and restating his position that he could think of no technical reason that a browser should be part of the operating system. Dr. Gosling is a very knowledgeable, experience engineer, perhaps the most qualified of the witnesses to date, and, unfortunately for Microsoft, Judge Jackson will probably give his testimony some weight, despite its evasiveness.
Dr. Goslings testimony and cross rehashed much of the Sun v. Microsoft Java case. For us in this class, it might have been repetitive, but for Jackson, most of it may have been new or necessary reiteration. Yet, with all the acronyms and technical terms, Jackson allowed Microsoft to finish its long cross before asking any clarifying questions. One of Jacksons questions was "What's the compiler do?" 10pm23. This is so basic and essential to understanding the relationship between Java source code and Java bytecode that if Jackson really didnt understand what a compiler is up until this point, I seriously wonder how much of the cross examination he could have followed. Maybe at this point Microsoft would have been better off if Jackson could have consulted a special master to answer technical questions.
If one could only read one section of Dr. Goslings transcripts to read, it should be the last session, particularly some of Judge Jacksons questions. These provide valuable insight into what is on his mind and what he may think are the real issues in this case. His first question was, "Do you regard the Java Virtual Machine, itself, as an application to an operating system?" 10pm20. This question is a lot more probing than his compiler question. Gosling explained that he didnt consider it an application in its usual meaning. Jackson asked a follow-up question, and Gosling elaborated that to applications, the JVM looked like an OS, but to the OS, the JVM looked like an application, sort of like an electrical adapter plug, which looks like a socket on one end and a plug on the other. This analogy makes the JVM look almost harmless, and I think Microsoft needs to counter it by explaining how harmful the "adapter" can be to its business. An "adapter," even if it doesnt make competitors compatible, instantly doubles the number of competitors; every competitive OS effectively now comes in a second version. Second, it can open up the door to competitors. Third, if the adapter makes several competitors compatible, it could create a combined power large enough to threaten Microsofts monopoly.
The cross-examination was not completely detrimental to Microsoft. Microsoft made headway in two main areas. First, Java was shown to be still far from living up to its hype. "Write Once, Run Anywhere" was convincingly shown to be little more than advertising, despite Goslings frequent reminders that Java was a young language still under development but improving rapidly. Speed has been a major issue, with Microsofts implementation "blowing away" all others.
The second area that Microsoft gained, was in what I would call its "self-defense" defense. Microsoft presented email which showed that Suns Java strategy was to destroy Microsoft, the "Evil Empire." Suns licensing of Java to Microsoft may have been a "Trojan horse." Many of Microsofts questions suggested that Sun consciously ignored Microsofts plans or suggestions for Java, practically inviting Microsoft to go its own way. Once Microsoft developed its non-standard Java, Sun broke out of the Trojan horse and attacked Microsoft for violating its Java license and ignoring the Java "community." Unfortunately, Microsoft was not able to advance this theory beyond a point owing to Goslings claims that he wasnt directly involved in such strategy decisions.
However, these arguments dont seem to have piqued Judge Jacksons interests yet, perhaps because Jackson wasnt technologically prepared to understand them fully. Microsoft's biggest mistakes with Gosling's might have been spending too much time on cross examination revisiting the same topics and not enough time building the technical foundation.
-- Anonymous, January 13, 1999