The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, delivered some good news to Microsoft yesterday when it stayed an order that would have required the software giant to begin working to bundle Sun Microsystems' Java technology in Windows XP within 120 days. The stay means that Microsoft won't need to worry about the potential bundling until Sun's $1 billion antitrust case against Microsoft goes to court, a process that could take months. Coincidentally, when the appeals court issued its stay, Microsoft had just announced plans for how it would handle bundling Java.

"We're pleased the Fourth Circuit has stayed the court order," said Microsoft spokesperson Jim Desler. "We believed all along it was appropriate that this matter be decided by the circuit court before we move forward with implementing the injunction." Sun said it was disappointed by the decision but looked forward to proving the merits of its case against Microsoft in court.

Earlier yesterday, Microsoft released an updated version of XP Service Pack 1 (SP1), XP1a, which dispenses with Microsoft's dated Java version but is otherwise identical to the original SP1. The company had said that it would release an SP1b that included Sun's Java technology within 120 days to comply with the earlier court ruling, but those plans are now on hold because of the stay. Microsoft said that it also would have distributed Sun's Java in other ways, including on CD-ROM and through online downloads such as Windows Update. Future Windows revisions, such as XP SP2 (due "later in 2003") and Longhorn, would have also included Sun's Java, the company said.