Microsoft brews fresh Java tool

Microsoft made an apparent concession to Java-focused customers and partners last week when it issued a test version of Visual J#.NET.

          Microsoft made an apparent concession to Java-focused customers and partners last week when it issued a test version of Visual J#.NET.

          The Java-language tool is designed to allow Java developers to build XML web services and applications that will run exclusively on .NET. But it is not a Java implementation and it will not allow developers to build Java applications.

          "We're delivering the Java language on the .NET Framework," says Tony Goodhew, a Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft product manager. "If you're a developer and like the Java language, you can now go build XML web services in the context of .NET."

          In addition to the .NET Framework, those applications or services will also work with .NET server software, Microsoft MyServices.NET (formerly called HailStorm), and other implementations of the .NET technology, Goodhew says.

          By providing support for Java, Microsoft is making any application written to Version 1.1.4 of Java compatible with .NET. But applications built in J#.NET won't run on a JVM (Java Virtual Machine), Microsoft noted.

          "Microsoft has been adamant about wanting to kill Java. But its big partners, such as Hewlett-Packard and IBM, are saying that the web lives on Java," says Rikki Kirzner, an application development analyst at Framingham, Massachusetts-based IDC.

          At least one user is confused by Microsoft's moves around Java. "It seems puzzling to me that Microsoft dropped J++ a while back and is now offering a Java-like language again. I thought that C# was supposed to be their Java replacement," says the user who requested anonymity.

          The beta of Visual J#.NET is intended to be used as an add-on to Visual Studio.NET, Microsoft's application development software suite, and the early version of Visual J#.NET will work with the second beta version of Visual Studio.NET.

          Also last week, Microsoft began previewing .NET Alerts, a service that will enable users to receive a variety of electronic alerts from each other and companies. Initially it will include auction bids, stock quotes, and travel schedule changes.

          "The basic concept is that [.NET Alerts] is an XML Web service, and it lives in the cloud," says John Montgomery, lead product manager for the .NET Framework at Microsoft. Montgomery says .NET Alerts works when users are authentically logged in to the Passport system.

          Matt Berger is a US Correspondent for the IDG News Service.

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