Microsoft set to release .Net tool for Java developer

Eyeing Java converts to its .Net applications platform, Microsoft Corp. on Monday planned to release its Visual J# .Net development tool, to make it easier for developers used to Java to build for .Net.

The successor to Microsoft’s Visual J++ tool, J# provides a transition for Java developers into Microsoft’s XML Web services development effort, Microsoft said. The arrival of J# marks the availability of all Microsoft programming languages within its Visual Studio .Net platform, according to Microsoft. The platform also features Visual C++, Visual C# and Visual Basic.

“We think that there’s a percentage of the community out there that is building applications using the Java language and those people want to take advantage of the .Net. framework and this is a great tool for them to adopt,” said Tony Goodhew, product manager for Visual J# .Net at Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft.

He added, “We expect some portion of the community will move from the Java platform using Visual J#.”

A Sun official, however, doubted that Microsoft would win any converts. “I don’t think it’ll happen because [developers have] got a much richer cross-platform development environment with compatible Java,” said David Harrah, marketing manager for Java and XML software for Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun.

Microsoft, Harrah noted, only has access to an older version of Java code, due to the resolution of a lawsuit between the two companies over Java.

“The tool and program that Microsoft has announced is really addressed to people who developed using the Microsoft J++ tool and other Java tools that they brought in the ’90s and those people have been left high and dry by Microsoft because they no longer are able to ship those products or support them. For us, this appears to be a bridge,” for developers who built using J++, Harrah said.

An official at a Dallas-based IT consultant, however, said he has seen growing interest in .Net among Java developers, although the number has been fairly small so far.

“What’s happening is that we’re starting to get clients who are talking to us about migration not necessarily from J++, but also actually from pre-developed Java projects,” said David Weller, .Net practice director at Valtech, which does both global IT consulting and skills transfer. The company is a Microsoft-certified partner but also partners on IBM and BEA projects related to Java.

Since February, approximately 10 clients have been inquiring about Java and five major customers are considering moving from Java to .Net, Weller said.

“We’re starting to get blips on the radar screen,” he said.

Microsoft, Weller said, has a more comprehensive framework for Web services development than what is available in Java. The Java Web services effort “is a little piecemeal,” said Weller.

Harrah responded that J2EE, the enterprise edition of Java, supports all the major Web services standards, such as SOAP, WSDL and UDDI.

Microsoft’s Visual J# .Net tool will be available for download by Visual Studio customers at