Even before Microsoft could announce that its new version of the Java programming language is out in beta, a Java developers group issued a preemptive declaration of war.
Visual J++ 6.0 is being viewed by the Java Lobby as a sign that Microsoft wants to extend its stranglehold on the industry and further fragment the programming language developed and owned by Sun Microsystems, an archrival of Microsoft.
"Regrettably, the time has come to abandon all hope that Microsoft will cease their antagonism to Java and to us, the community of Java developers and supporters," wrote Rick Ross, Java Lobby president, in a letter posted on the group's Web site. "Microsoft has raised the stakes with a new attempt to fragment the Java platform, Visual J++ 6.0. This forthcoming product reportedly alters the Java programming language itself.
"It is clear that if they cannot own or control Java, then they will do everything in their power to destroy it. There is no chance whatsoever that they will relent."
Visual J++ 6.0 is designed to "provide easy access to the full power of the Windows platform," according to Microsoft's announcement today. The software includes new keywords that will run only on the Windows operating system, which rankles Ross.
"It is our goal to see the 'write once, run anywhere' promise fulfilled, and the progress toward that goal in Java's three short years of existence is nothing less than spectacular," Ross wrote, suggesting that Microsoft is intent on destroying Java's multiplatform promise.
Likening the conflict with Microsoft to World War II, Ross added, "From this point forward we must recognize that we are, in fact, at war with Microsoft."
Sun and Microsoft have already declared war in the ongoing dispute over control of Java. Sun filed suit last year, arguing that Microsoft has violated terms of its Java licensing agreement and that case is expected to take months, if not years, to resolve.
While the Java Lobby has taken a stand against Microsoft and its announcements today, made in conjunction with Spring Internet World, various vendors are behind Microsoft's latest move.
Fujitsu Software Corp. said today it will support and use Visual J++ 6.0, as well as Windows Foundation Classes for Java that also were announced by Microsoft. Intel and a host of smaller software and technology vendors also are supporting J/Direct, Microsoft's technology that allows developers to build native Windows-based applications using Java, Microsoft said in one of its series of related announcements today.
It also was announced that Apple Computer will work with Microsoft to develop Java technologies for Apple's Macintosh computers. The companies are collaborating on a single Java virtual machine for the Mac OS, which will incorporate Microsoft Java technologies, the companies said in a statement. Microsoft plans to license various related technologies to Apple as part of the collaboration.
Microsoft said that its Windows Foundation Classes (WFC) will be a set of Java class libraries to help developers built native Windows-based applications. The classes can be used to generate dynamic HTML to Internet Explorer 4.0 or other browsers supporting HTML 4.0 and the document object model, Microsoft said.
Visual J++ 6.0 is available for a free download at Microsoft's World Wide Web site, http://www.microsoft.com/visualj/. A preview release of the WFC also is available and information can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/java/. And while the Java Lobby might be up in arms over today's announcements, a Web site for developers is posting the details on the new technology at http://www.developer.com/.
Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at http://www.microsoft.com/. The Java Lobby, and the full text of Ross's letter, can be found at http://www.javalobby.org/. Apple, in Cupertino, California, can be reached at http://www.apple.com/.