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JavaOne Microsoft will keep the flame of interoperability between .NET and Java burning in the future world without Sun - currently Java's chief steward.

Dan'l Lewin, corporate vice president for strategic and emerging business development, told what's looking like the last JavaOne that Microsoft's "intent and ongoing commitment" is to make .NET and Java systems "work and work well together".

"I want to be perfectly clear that the Microsoft commitment is there to drive interoperability and collaboration because it's good for our end users and it's good for our customers," Lewin said.

He highlighted interoperability on web security, single sign on, identity, and virtualization and talked support for SAML, used in Sun identity management and Microsoft's Geneva identity server.

Joining Lewin, senior director of development platform product management Steven Marin said Microsoft would focus on building reference architectures and code samples - practical materials for developers - instead of simply supporting industry standards in .NET products.

He pointed to Microsoft's support for the Apache Software Foundation's Project Stonehenge as an indicator. As expected, and trying to light a fire under proceedings Lewin had just promised would not be episodic, Microsoft and Sun demonstrated web services interoperability between .NET and Sun's Metro web services tack for its open-source application server Glassfish using Stonehenge.

Martin said an annual survey of developers by Microsoft found - unsurprisingly - that 73 per cent of developers use Java and .Net every day. Interoperability is not a nice to have - it was a need.

"If we are not interested in interoperability we know developers and customers will vote with their feet," Martin said. "While we continue to innovate... we will not to it at the expense of interoperability. It's something we think is critically important as we go forward," Martin said.

Sun and Microsoft committed to a general agreement on interoperability five years ago as part of a broader legal settlement. But this was Microsoft's first JavaOne keynote, and it came during a JavaOne that was a long goodbye to Sun from vendors and start-ups.

It was a joint presentation that saw Redmond’s ambassadors stress their bonafides as non-Microsoft blue bloods. They talked up their careers before Microsoft. For Lewin, that involved work at Apple and Marin that was Netscape and Sun.

Martin opened by saying they "came in peace." Sun, meanwhile, announced its yet-to-launch cloud service would have Windows as a guest operating system.

That’s assuming Oracle, in the process of buying Sun, doesn’t pull the plug on Sun’s cloud.

Microsoft's pledge comes at a time uncertainty over Java's development in regards to interoperability. Sun, has - for better or worse - dominated the Java Community Process (JCP), the body that has historically developed new APIs for Java and worked to stop fragmentation.

But the JCP is not a profitably activity for Sun while many in open-source question the JCP's worth as an free or innovative body. Java in general has also suffered from rivalry between vendors such as IBM and Sun trying to dominate the language and platform.

It is unclear whether Oracle - a JCP member - will want to take on Sun's role as Java's chief steward and moderator, and take over the work of leading the majority of API work in areas like interoperability. ®

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