Thursday, August 28, 1997, page 12 ---------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Microsoft's Rivals Tighten Alliance ---------------------------------------------------------------------- The Associated Press ---------------------------------------------------------------------- NEW YORK - Now that Apple Computer Inc. has defected, Microsoft Corp.'s remaining opponents have struck a series of deals to tighten their alliance against the dominant maker of personal-computer software. International Business Machines Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Netscape Communications Corp. moved Tuesday to coordinate their work on a universal language for developing software that works on any computer system - not just Microsoft's Windows. The three companies said their engineers would work together to make sure the Java language ran software formatted for different computers, ranging from Windows to Sun machines. They also plan to fine-tune the language to lessen problems, as well as time new releases so software developers get the latest versions at the same time. In another move, Netscape plans to use Sun technology in its Internet browser, which competes against Microsoft's browser, to improve how it works with software written in the Java language. In a third Java push, Sun announced licensing deals with three big telephone-equipment makers that plan to use Java software in new phones, dubbed webphones, that can tap into the Internet. And Sun, Netscape and several other high-tech companies, but not Microsoft, proposed a technical standard aimed at helping to unclog bottlenecks that have slowed the flow of information on the Internet. The agreements, unveiled at a New York trade show devoted to Java software, came after Apple shocked the computer world by agreeing to a broad alliance with Microsoft that includes a deal to develop a programming language that will compete with Sun's Java.