Microsoft announced Tuesday that it will include its Java Virtual Machine (JVM) in the upcoming release of Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1), reversing an earlier decision to not support the technology in Windows. However, the company also said that its support of Java would be short-lived: Starting January 1, 2004, Microsoft will no longer include Java in its Windows products.

"Microsoft has decided to include its Java virtual machine as part of the service pack due later this summer," a Microsoft representative told me Tuesday. "This decision was made to minimize any disruption among our customers." Microsoft said it reversed its decision because of Sun's most recent lawsuit, in which Sun claimed that an installation on demand option for Microsoft's Java was in violation of the settlement agreement between Sun and Microsoft.

"The decision to include Microsoft's Java virtual machine in SP1 does not change plans to remove Java support from Windows," I was told. "The decision to remove Microsoft's Java implementation was made because of Sun's strategy of using the legal system to compete with Microsoft. The settlement agreement between the companies prevents Microsoft from making any changes--including any security fixes--to our Java implementation after January 1, 2004. Microsoft does not with to put its customers or Windows at risk, so there will be no Java in Windows from that point forward."

Microsoft also noted that PC makers are free to include any competing Java version--including that made by Sun--with Windows XP-based PCs if they wish.

Windows XP SP1 is set for release in mid-August, according to sources close to Microsoft.