Java injunction, what's your function?

The injunction granted yesterday requiring Microsoft to bundle Java with Windows strikes me as a non-event. OK, so people who buy new PCs now get Java pre-installed instead of having to spend a few minutes downloading it the first time they open a Java object in their browser. It’s not like we’re back in the days when installing a plug-in was a cumbersome, manual process.

Who cares about Java on the desktop, anyway? J2EE remains strong on the server side, though Microsoft is giving it a run with .Net. I suppose Sun’s concern is that Microsoft will use the client-side .Net runtime to tip the scales against J2EE. But how realistic is that? If I were Sun, I’d be much more worried about the possibility Microsoft might acquire Macromedia, with its widely deployed Flash runtime.

Presumably, Sun is just trying to stick it to Microsoft any way it can. The private antitrust suit under which the injunction was granted is seeking serious monetary damages as well, I assume. Still, the injunction raises a question that came up during the government’s antitrust case against Microsoft: Is it remotely possible to create a viable remedy? We can’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

In this light, it will be interesting to watch the regulatory developments around "neutrality" of broadband networks. A coalition including Microsoft is lobbying hard for rules barring cable operators from discriminating on their broadband platforms. Many of the same arguments, however, could apply to Microsoft itself.