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IBM targets Microsoft developers with new tools

Big Blue is marketing Lotus Expeditor as an alternative to Microsoft's .Net.

IBM is hoping to woo software developers away from Microsoft.

The company on Wednesday announced Lotus Expeditor, software tools designed to let developers create Web 2.0-based applications from reusable components. IBM is also teaming up with partner Mainsoft to help developers migrate their Microsoft Visual Basic.Net applications to Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) open-standards applications.

Free support for Microsoft's Visual Basic 6 ended last year, raising the ire of a number of developers. Microsoft, however, recently introduced Interop Forms Toolkit 1.0, which is designed to move Visual Basic 6 applications to its .Net platform.

Lotus Expeditor is designed to allow customers to combine existing software components to create new client applications. IBM is marketing the software as an alternative to Microsoft's .Net.

While companies that run Microsoft's database and client software will likely remain "Microsoft shops," Lotus Expeditor product manager Angus McIntyre said others may want to adopt IBM's software. He said it lets developers migrate from Visual Basic programming to Java, as well as tie into the upcoming Lotus Mobile Connect software.

Lotus Mobile Connect is software that gives people secure mobile access to Expeditor-based applications. It is designed to let people resume work they were doing with applications while offline, once they reconnect to a network. People who use IBM Lotus Sametime instant messaging, for example, can pick up where they left off without having to log back in.

Prices for Lotus Expeditor and Lotus Mobile Connect, which are due for release later this year, were not disclosed.