Microsoft Corp.'s new operating system for personal computers will be the first in years to ship without software that allows users of the World Wide Web to view pages constructed with the popular Java programming language.
The Redmond, Wash., software giant said Tuesday that Windows XP will be sold without the software, called a Java virtual machine, because of Microsoft's long dispute with Sun Microsystems Inc., which developed the language.
Java programs are designed to run on any operating system, and Microsoft has viewed Java as a threat to its monopoly on personal computer systems. Microsoft licensed the language but then changed it so that Java programs would run better with its Windows systems.
Sun sued Microsoft over the practice in 1991, and in January the two companies settled. Microsoft agreed not to ship new products with altered versions of Java and not to claim that its older products were compatible with Sun's Java.
The company's decision to ship XP without Java is a direct result of the settlement and is intended to ward off any request from Sun to block the October release of XP, said company spokesman Jim Cullinan. Sun officials had no immediate comment.
The move angered some software developers, who worry that the lack of support for Java will erode the use of the language.
"That's intentional on their part to not promote Java technology," said JavaWorld magazine columnist Rinaldo Digiorgio, a Java developer and Sun employee.
Microsoft officials said the effect on consumers would be negligible.
If a current Windows user upgrades to XP, the old Java virtual machine will stay installed, said spokesman Vivek Varma. And if Windows XP is installed on a fresh machine, the first time that a user tries to view a Java Web site, Windows will ask if the user wants to download a Java virtual machine. Downloading should take just a few minutes, Microsoft said.