Microsoft, riding the wave of its newfound popularity as an Internet standards supporter, claims it will do with .Net what Sun refuses to do with Java: push it as an open standard.
At Garter's Application Development 2000 summit here Monday, Microsoft executives said the company still intends to submit portions of its forthcoming C# (C-sharp) Internet programming language and .Net language infrastructure to a European standard body so it can be ported to non-Windows platforms.
Microsoft executives met with the ECMA (formerly European Computer Manufacturers Association) over the weekend on the matter.
In that vein, Microsoft is working with ISVs such as Israel-based Mainsoft to possibly port .Net code to Linux and Solaris in the future, sources said Monday.
But there are limits to Microsoft's generosity. Supporting XML one thing, but making .Net an Internet standard is quite another, Gartner analysts say.
Microsoft's Visual Studio.Net and the included C# language is a direct competitor to Java, despite Microsoft's vehement statements to the contrary, and it is not destined to be an overnight spec, says Mark Driver, a Gartner analyst.
That level of openness on Microsoft's part is more of a long-term possibility than a near-term reality and depends in large part on the outcome of its antitrust case, Driver says.
Microsoft executives acceded to that characterization. "It'll take some time to get there," says Dave Lazar, Microsoft group product manager for Visual Studio.Net.
Lazar says there will be proprietary Windows code in Visual Studio.Net not submitted to the standards organization, and that bringing .Net to non-Windows platforms is far from imminent.
Gartner's Driver says most large corporations will support both .Net and Java, and also advised clients that Microsoft will likely drop all Java support in Visual Studio.Net versions, regardless of the outcome of the Sun-Microsoft lawsuit.
Noting that the wave to Internet standards is more powerful than any vendor's agenda, however, Driver says it's only a matter of time before Sun hands over Java to a bona fide standards body.
The Java Community Process, including IBM and other Java licensees, oversees the maintenance and evolution of the programming language, but Sun maintains certain veto rights, Driver says.
Responding to yet another plea from IBM earlier in the day to submit Java to the standards body, Sun issued another firm 'No.'
"We feel Java is with an open standards body -- the Java Community Process," says a Sun spokesman. "Two attempts to submit Java to traditional standards bodies were short-circuited by politics. [It is] doubtful we will try this route again."
Instead, Sun will do what Microsoft has been doing -- promoting XML for interoperability. At Sun's Dot.Com briefing later this month in New York, Sun plans to jump on the XML hype bandwagon and point out the deep XML support already contained within Java, sources say. Java includes XML messaging and mapping APIs.
Analysts say Sun's response is long overdue. "Sun has really dropped the ball in getting the XML word out," Driver says. "But under the covers [of Java], XML is there."