A U.S. District Court this week dealt a heavy blow to Microsoft Corporation when it granted Sun Microsystem's request for a temporary injunction against the software giant. The injunction forces Microsoft to remove its altered version of Java from Windows 98, Visual J++, Internet Explorer, and any other product that uses it, or remove those products from store shelves within 90 days. Computers that are already using these products are not affected. The injunction is in force until the end of the Java trial (not to be confused with the separate antitrust trial Microsoft is now involved in), at which time a permanent ruling will be made.

"We are gratified that the court has granted our request for a preliminary injunction. This is a win for Java, for Java licensees, and for consumers," said Alan Baratz, president of Sun's JavaSoft.

"While we are obviously disappointed with this preliminary ruling, we are gratified that the court's order should not impact customers using Microsoft products today, nor will any products be recalled," said Paul Maritz, group vice president of platforms and applications at Microsoft. "Further, the Judge has upheld Microsoft's right to innovate and offer developers the choice of building great Windows applications using the Java language even when complying with the Court's order."

It's clear that this is a major defeat for Microsoft, though they're putting a positive face on in public. Still, there's no way to even exaggerate how difficult it will be for the company to remove its own brand of Java from its products--temporarily--and then change its strategy based on a final--and yet to come--ruling in this bizarre case