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Microsoft shelves its Java tools in new strategy

The software maker may be moving ahead with a Web-based software strategy, but its Java tools will not be along for the ride.

ORLANDO--Microsoft may be moving ahead with a Web-based software strategy, but its Java tools will not be along for the ride.

The company today confirmed that Visual Studio.Net, which the company demonstrated at a company-sponsored software developer conference here, will not include Visual J++, the company's Java-based tool.

Arcane as this product strategy might sound, the decision will no doubt create ripple effects in the software industry. Without tools from Microsoft, developers may find it slightly more onerous to bring Java programs to Windows, although Microsoft will resell tools from another developer. At the same time, Microsoft will be putting more of its efforts into tools for C# (pronounced "C-sharp"), a competing Java-like language.

"Visual J++ is not currently in the Visual Studio.Net package," Paul Maritz, vice president of the company's platforms group said. "We have ongoing litigation with Sun (Microsystems), so we can't be innovators" in Java, Maritz said. "But we would like to see Java supported in the '.Net' platform."

The company will ship a Java tool made by software developer Rational in Visual Studio.Net, which is expected to debut later this year. Microsoft plans to hand out test versions of the tools package tomorrow to more than 6,000 developers at a conference here.

Microsoft is mired in a lawsuit with Sun over Java and has been prevented from updating its Java products. Sun sued Microsoft three years ago, arguing that Microsoft built technology into its Java products that leads developers to build Java programs that only operate within Windows, defeating Sun's "write once, run anywhere" goal.

In response, Microsoft has developed its own Java-like language, called C#. As first reported by CNET, C# is a hybrid of C and C++, two of the most popular programming languages used by software developers to write applications for the Windows operating system.

Sun said in May that Microsoft's license to use Java expires in March 2001.

While it's not certain that C# is Microsoft's Microsoft's Java growing cold? long-rumored "Java-killer," the technology replicates many of the most valued features of Sun's programming language, including enhanced security and "garbage collection," which makes programming easier by tidying up computer memory used in a software program.

Microsoft also announced today the Common Language Runtime engine for supporting multiple development languages and minimizing differences in computing hardware for software developers.

Maritz, speaking here this morning, said the framework "provides a common platform for all languages." Microsoft announced that along with its own languages, 17 third-party languages, including the popular Web language Perl, will run on the framework.