Microsoft Leaves Java Out of .Net Tool Kit

FRAMINGHAM (07/20/2000) - Microsoft Corp. previewed a slew of tools as part of its Microsoft.Net tool set at its Professional Developers Conference in Orlando earlier this month. Visual J++ didn't make an appearance at the show or in the tools package, and developers say the development tool won't be missed.

The software vendor confirmed that because of its Java-related court battle with Sun Microsystems Inc., Visual J++ - which creates Windows-specific Java applications - was left out of the Visual Studio.Net preview. The preview included several other tools updated or designed to support the new Microsoft.Net Internet strategy that's supposed to transform applications into Web services.

Visual J++ creates Windows-specific Java applications. Java creator Sun sued and won an injunction blocking Microsoft from developing its own version of the Web programming language, but the case is still in progress.

Microsoft officials wouldn't comment on the pending case but said Visual J++ could beincluded in the Visual Studio.Net package of tools designed to help developers write applications for the Microsoft.Net initiative. The tool could also ship on its own, they said, depending on the outcome of the court fight with Sun.

Dead on the Vine

"Its no surprise that Visual J++ [didn't get included]," said Sally Cusack, an analyst at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass. "It has not been [updated] in two years, so Microsoft let it die on the vine, so to speak."

Cusack said Visual J++ was one of the top three Java development environments two years ago, along with tools from Inprise Corp. in Scotts Valley, Calif., and Symantec Corp. in Cupertino, Calif.

Developers still use the tool, but many are looking to migrate because of the uncertainty caused by the suit, she said. Microsoft officials said the company will provide a migration path if it loses the lawsuit.

But some developers said Microsoft's Visual J++ won't be missed. "I was just saying that we should start to exploit Visual J++ [before I left], but now I am going to have to go back to the office and rescind that," said William Buckingham, an information technology architect at Royal Bank of Canada in Toronto.

Buckingham said Royal Bank uses IBM Corp.'s Java tools, which are optimized to run on S/390 mainframe computers.

"We were seeing Java as more strategic on the S/390" than on Windows 2000, Buckingham said. "We are a bigfinancial institution, and the 390 is our mother ship with the legacy stuff on it, and we really need to have true scalability there."

"Nobody used [J++]," said Kevin Dill, Internet practice lead at Software Architects Inc., a software consulting firm in Columbus, Ohio. "Our customers that wanted Java didn't like J++ because it has Windows-specific hooks."

Reporter Dominique Deckmyn contributed to this story.

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