MS Brings Partners, Java Compiler into Tool Suite

Microsoft has thrown open its Visual Studio development tool suite to a slew of software partners and offered tighter Java integration. It says the Visual Studio Integration Program will offer ISVs technical resources, comarketing opportunities, and 'detailed disclosure on future Microsoft technologies.'

Microsoft has thrown open its Visual Studio development tool suite to a slew of software partners, including a deal to offer tighter Java integration through Rational Software technology.

The Visual Studio Integration Program will offer ISVs technical resources, comarketing opportunities, and "detailed disclosure on future Microsoft technologies," according to Microsoft officials.

The new deals mean that many non-Microsoft tool add-ons, utilities, and project management features will be able to be used in conjunction with Visual Studio tools, and that other languages may be used to create applications that can then be deployed to Windows platforms using Visual Studio.

A raft of companies signed up, including Attachmate, Baan, Compuware, Continuus Software, Geodesic Systems, Installshield, Intel, Liant Software, Merant, Mercury Interactive, Mortice Kern Systems, National Instruments, Poet Software, Raleigh Group International, Rational Software, Riverton Software, Seagate Software, Stingray/Rogue Wave Software, SuperNova, Tower Technology, and Wall Data.

"This is a very good thing. Microsoft is putting in a real effort to finely tune development kits so you can use other languages," said Sally Cusack, an analyst at International Data Corp., in Framingham, Mass.

In separate Microsoft developer news last week, Paul Maritz, group vice president at Microsoft, announced he will no longer head up the Developer Group. Martiz will devote his energies to a new "technical leadership team," according to company officials. David Vaskevitch, vice president of distributed applications, will run the Developer Group.

Among the more interesting developments within the Visual Studio program announcement is the plan by Rational to use Microsoft technology and Sun Microsystems' openly available Java specifications to produce a Java compiler for use in Visual Studio.

As a Java-compliant compiler, it will allow Microsoft's Visual J++ components -- as well as any other Java-compliant components -- to be deployed to Windows servers, said officials from both Rational and Microsoft. Rational, however, does not plan to license Java; it will use only the open Java specification, Rational officials said.

Sun officials welcomed the prospect of faster Java on Windows, but added that a compiler that uses Java technology would have to pass a Java compatibility test.

The Rational Java work may lead to Enterprise JavaBeans components being deployed to Windows servers, though no final plans for such deployments have been made, said Eric Schurr, general manager of marketing and suite products at Rational, in Cupertino, Calif.

Moreover, deeper integration will occur between Rational Suite and Visual Studio, so that the Rational products can be used from within the Visual Studio environment, Rational officials said.

Microsoft Corp., in Redmond, Wash., is at www.microsoft.com. Rational Software Corp., in Cupertino, Calif., is at www.rational.com.

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