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Commentary: J#.Net will be ignored

A new tool from Microsoft aimed at attracting Java developers to its .Net Web services plan will ultimately be avoided.

By Mark Driver, Gartner Analyst

A new tool from Microsoft aimed at attracting Java developers to its .Net Web services plan, Visual J#.Net, will confuse the adoption of C#, Microsoft's answer to Java. Moreover, it will ultimately be ignored by most Java platform developers.

Visual J#.Net doesn't allow the building of

See news story:
Microsoft takes new tack on Java
stand-alone Java applications. Instead, it lets programmers use the Java language to write code that works only with the .Net platform. It's a Java-like language for .Net, and it will tend to attract only developers with previous Java experience migrating to .Net. For others, if it's used at all, it will be only as a stepping stone as programmers migrate to C#, .Net's native third-generation, object-oriented language.

This new Microsoft language might attract large companies that must support both .Net and Java, but they will find the syntax of the language to be of only minor long-term benefit. In fact, Visual J#.Net will likely have lasting appeal only to a small subset of mainstream Java developers and will likely attract no more than 5 percent of the total Java development market through to 2004.

Companies committed to .Net should look at this new tool, but with caution and only with an eye toward moving to C#, or other languages more suited to .Net, to make the most of the platform's features.

Microsoft and Sun Microsystems recently settled their long-standing lawsuit over Java. Microsoft dropped its Java license but retained the right to distribute its current products for seven years. The settlement, though, says Microsoft cannot update those aged Java products beyond bug fixes without also passing Sun's Java compatibility tests, effectively freezing the products in their current state. It is clear that Microsoft will not introduce any further products based on Sun's Java technology.

Microsoft's new .Net and associated programming technologies will make it completely independent of Sun and Java--freeing it from legal requirements to pass Sun's compatibility tests.

Microsoft has always maintained that Java is a good language but isn't capable of supporting real-world solutions. The market has clearly proven Microsoft wrong, and the overwhelming number of Java adopters (independent software vendors and businesses) look to the technology to provide not only an object-oriented development language but also a unified library of reusable components and services, as well as a cross-platform runtime infrastructure. In a recent Gartner survey, most respondents mentioned cross-platform support as a significant reason for selecting Java, and 23 percent mentioned "avoiding Microsoft lock-in."

Java has always been a second-tier technology for Microsoft, which considers it inferior to C#. Visual J#.Net is a good example of the company's resolve to have developers think of something else other than Java. But experienced developers are wise to Microsoft's strategies, and so they should be.

(For related commentary on Microsoft's issues with Java, see Gartner.com.)

Entire contents, Copyright © 2001 Gartner, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.