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