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Microsoft plans Java counterpunch for .NET

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We're receiving credible reports that Microsoft will shortly unveil Java language support to .NET, alongside its home-brewed Java clone C#, and VB, in a project that goes under the internal name of "Java.NET".

Sun and Microsoft have been sparring over Java for several years. Microsoft's foray signals a shift in its approach to the Java community, but risks re-opening a fresh round of litigation.

Right now, Microsoft currently offers its Jump tools to encourage developers to migrate from Java to C#. But the Java language appears to have a fairly unstoppable momentum, and is predicted to set to surpass C++ in popularity: so it's become a constituency Microsoft can't afford to ignore.

The Beast's ultimate goal is to get its .NET platform adopted, so welcoming Java developers into the camp simply makes good business sense. It runs the risk of devaluing its C# proposition, but in the greater scheme of things losing a language is a small sacrifice on the road to gaining the dominant enterprise developer platform. Which would you rather have?

However, Sun is likely to view any Microsoft Java with deep suspicion. Or more precisely, a battery of deeply suspicious and well heeled attorneys.

Microsoft has long been rumoured to be working on a clean room version of Java, which would allow the Beast to market compatible implementations in all but name. And the name's the very rub: Sun tolerates clones, so long as they don't actually brand themselves as "Java": Sun controls the test suite and to achieve the Java-compatible logo, submitters need to pass some pretty hairy tests.

.NET developers can already use a third-party Java interface from Halcyon Software, who are beta testing a Java compiler JIL, and a bi-directional Java/.NET bridge called JROM. Microsoft's implementation integrates Java into Visual Studio, we're told.

It's expected to be unveiled in November. We'd expect a few fireworks from Sun first though.

Any developers already seeded with working copies of Visual Studio incorporating "Java.NET" are very welcome to share their findings with us. ®

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