Microsoft on Tuesday released the second beta of Visual J# .Net, a tool that will allow programmers to use the Java language to build software that works only on Microsoft's .Net technology. The tool does not allow developers to build standalone Java software.
.Net is Microsoft's strategy for "Web services," a technology push geared toward making software accessible to multiple devices--including PCs, cell phones and handheld gadgets--over the Internet. Web services also describes how one server can find others that provide services such as charging a customer's credit card or searching for gas stations in a given Zip code.
However, Sun has raised concerns about Visual J# .Net in its recent privateagainst Microsoft. The Santa Clara, Calif., server seller argues that Microsoft has corrupted Java, undermining its key promise: programs that can run on several different computers--regardless of operating system--without having to be changed for each one.
"Although Visual J# .Net purports to provide support for writing programs in the Java language," Sun said in the suit, filed less than two weeks ago, "Microsoft has changed the syntax of the Java language in a number of ways, ensuring that the source code written using Visual J# .Net will not be compatible with source code written following the public specifications for the Java language. Visual J# .Net distorts the Java language from a language that can be used to write vendor-independent code that will run on a wide variety of platforms to Microsoft-dependent code that will run only on the Microsoft platform."
Microsoft says the Sun suit will have no impact on Visual J# .Net, though. "The Sun lawsuit doesn't affect the release of Visual J# .Net at all," said Tony Goodhew, Microsoft's product manager for the .Net Framework.
Microsoft executives believe the limited capability of Visual J# .Net allows Microsoft to sidestep licensing issues with Java creator Sun.
In its suit, Sun also alleges that "Microsoft has made false and deceptive statements regarding the ability of its Visual J# .Net product to pass the Java compatibility test suites," tests from Sun that ensure that software said to run Java programs works properly.
Goodhew counters, "There is no Sun intellectual property used in the product, nor do we make any claims that it will produce applications that pass any Sun tests or run on any Sun-licensed platform."
Programmers can download the beta of J# .Net and start using it with Visual Studio.Net, Microsoft's just-released family of software development tools for building Web services.
Some new features include upgrade wizards that easily convert files from Microsoft's older Java tool, called Visual J++, to support Visual Studio.Net, as well as faster compilers--technology that translates human-readable programming language into machine-readable code.
Microsoft last yearits plan to build the new Java tool, along with other tools, to allow programmers to convert older Java software to .Net.
Goodhew said Microsoft plans to release a final version of Visual J# .Net by the middle of the year. At the same time, the company plans to ship a tool that converts Java software code to C# code. C# is a Java-like language that Microsoft has created to compete against Java. A beta version of that conversion tool was released in January.