Can't we all just get along? A federal judge has ordered Sun Microsystems and Microsoft Corporation to hold settlement talks where the two companies will discuss the way that Java interacts with native machine code. Currently, Sun and Microsoft have differing systems for this: Microsoft uses "Raw Native Interface" (RNI) while Sun offers the "Java Native Interface" (JNI). A preliminary injunction late last year forced Microsoft to add support for JNI, but the judge wants the companies to work together to find a common way to "invoke functions built into the platform being used."

Microsoft argues that its RNI is faster and more feature complete than JNI (it also runs only on Windows), while Sun's approach is more platform independent. The judge recommends a single specification that achieves both goals.

Regardless of the outcome of these talks--both companies claim to be interested in talking with the other--the fate of Microsoft's Java lawsuit rests on other issues as well. Even a complete agreement on this particular topic wouldn't end the trial