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Commentary: Java, .Net rivalry still on

Enterprises should not view the recent legal settlement as an official declaration of peace between Microsoft and Sun but rather as a cease-fire on the Java legal front.

    By David Smith, Daryl Plummer and Mark Driver, Gartner Analysts

    Microsoft's .Net vision has given the company a direction in which to focus its efforts at driving the future of software development and deployment.

    .Net, along with XML, has made the confrontation between Microsoft's offerings and Sun Microsystems' Java much less important for overall future success in e-business development.

    As this has occurred, Microsoft has recognized that continuing as an overt and legal antagonist to Java has had diminishing returns for the past few years. Since Java has gained enough momentum to ensure its place as a primary language and platform for business applications, Microsoft has increasingly been cast as an outsider in the quest for enterprise platform solutions.

    The settlement paves the way--legally--for Microsoft to enhance its Java strategy by adding support for the language to its .Net framework, as Gartner predicts it will by the end of this year. The C# language, which hasn't seen the official light of day yet, will likely suffer as a result of Microsoft's increased focus on Java. Uncertainty over C#'s future because of difficult positioning--coupled with the fact that those who would likely use it are also those likely to use Java--means that the success of C# will fall victim to the extreme pain Microsoft is feeling from its lack of Java support.

    Gartner continues to believe that Microsoft will introduce more Java support in the .Net platform by year's end. However, it is important to note that without significant support for Java 2 platforms (specifically Java Server Pages and "servlets"), Microsoft will use non-Sun (but Java-like) technology to provide a Java-like language for .Net.

    Enterprises should not view this settlement as an official declaration of peace between Microsoft and Sun but rather as a cease-fire on the Java legal front. Microsoft's next steps must include clear delineation of its plans for Java support within .Net and how much of that support will be fully compatible with Java platform goals.

    See news story:
    Sun, Microsoft settle Java suit
    The strategic choice remains between Java (the platform) vs. Microsoft (increasingly .Net). Enterprises that are committed to mainstream Java platform technologies but are using Microsoft's products (such as Visual J++ and Java Software Development Kit) should look to other vendors' tools. However, enterprises that are committed to .Net should look to Microsoft to introduce Java language strategies for .Net in 2001.

    (For related commentary assessing the future of Java, see TechRepublic.com--free registration required.)

    Entire contents, Copyright ? 2001 Gartner Group, 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.