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Sun, MS vie for developers

Both Sun Microsystems' JavaSoft division, and Microsoft attempt to turn Java developers' heads with a series of tool-related announcements.

Both Sun Microsystems' (SUNW) JavaSoft division, and Microsoft (MSFT) attempted to turn Java developers' heads with a series of tool-related announcements.

Rounding out its offerings for developers, JavaSoft today at Summer Internet World released a series of software tools, including a JavaBeans Migration Assistant that helps turn Window-based ActiveX controls into Java components.

The migration tool is billed as a preliminary version of the JavaBeans Bridge for ActiveX. A revised beta also has been posted.

The bridge will allow JavaBean components to work within a ActiveX container, according to JavaSoft.

In addition, JavaSoft also announced a free developers' release of Java Performance Runtime for Windows, a binary Java runtime that is based on Java Development Kit 1.1. It includes the Java virtual machine, Java class libraries, and a free JIT compiler for the Windows platform.

Developers can bundle the Java runtime with their applications at no charge, and Sun claims it will increase the speed at which Windows applications run in Java. It also gives developers access to JDK 1.1 features for free.

Meanwhile, Microsoft (MSFT) has posted a second beta version of its software developer's kit for Java, which includes a revamped virtual machine for Java, and new application foundation classes.

The virtual machine includes JDK 1.1 support, integration of ActiveX and JavaBeans components, Application Foundation Classes to allow developers to build Java applications, and J/Direct, which provides direct access to 32-bit Windows APIs (application programming interfaces). The development kit is posted to Microsoft's Web site.

Application Foundation Classes are prebuilt code for creating elements of the user interface--such as a window frame or pull-down menu--for Java applications. AFCs are supposed to help Java developers build applications with more sophisticated interfaces faster and easier than Java class libraries offered by Sun and Netscape Communications.

In other Java-related news at Summer Internet World today, JavaSoft announced:

--It has signed up more than a dozen companies to license PersonalJava for consumer devices such as smart phones, handheld computers, and Internet TV set-top boxes. They include major chipmakers Texas Instruments and Motorola, as well as Lucent Technologies, WebTV Networks (now a unit of Microsoft), and four companies that make real-time operating systems for small devices.

--A draft specification for InfoBus, developed with Lotus, has been posted to give developers a blueprint of how to use the spec. InfoBus allows two or more JavaBeans to share information with each other dynamically.

--A new JavaBeans component model spec, code-named Glasgow, was posted July 2 for public review and comment.