Microsoft Urges Java Developers To Assume .Net Interoperability

Sun's participation in the Apache Software Foundation's Stonehenge project is expected to help remove some of the last barriers between the two Web standards.
"I want to say, absolutely, we come in peace," pledged Steven Martin, one of a pair of Microsoft executives to address the crowd at JavaOne on Thursday in San Francisco. It may have been said in jest, but no one at the keynote address laughed.

Nevertheless, the earnest tone and serious examples presented by Martin, senior director of development platform products, and Dan'l Lewin, corporate VP of strategic and emerging business development, left JavaOne attendees impressed with Microsoft's desire to have Windows and .Net fully interoperate with Java.

As their engineering teams have worked in the background to get Windows to run Java applications and to get Solaris servers to run Windows, many interoperability barriers have fallen one by one.

"It was painful," said Martin. "Think of it as getting a root canal on every tooth" as engineering teams removed one small obstacle after another in their respective operating systems and development environments, he added.

Everyone knows that Sun Microsystems and Microsoft buried the hatchet in their formerly active hostilities five years ago, but few realize the extent of technical cooperation that's grown up between them. "Both Java and .Net have won in the enterprise. ... Seventy-three percent of developers rely on .Net or a combination of .Net and Java," Martin said.

Martin said Microsoft has convinced Sun to participate in the Apache Software Foundation's Stonehenge project. It seeks to create open source reference examples of code that implements interactions between different systems by invoking Web standards. The World Wide Web Consortium and Oasis are two of the main suppliers of such standards, including WS-Security and WS-ReliableMessaging.

Microsoft contributed a .Net version of an IBM-originated sample stock-trading system, first written in Java, to Stonehenge in January, giving developers a way test interactions between Java and .Net systems over the Web.

"In Stonehenge, this stuff just seamlessly plugs together, whether it's an Active Server Pages system or a JavaServer Pages system," Martin said.

"We've changed," added Lewin. "Microsoft has wrapped its systems around .Net and XML, and it's our responsibility to see that these things work with other systems."

In addition to Sun and Microsoft, the Stonehenge project is supported by developers from Progress Software, Red Hat, and WSO2, a Sri Lankan firm that produces open source Web services middleware. WSO2 is the largest contributor to the project.

Microsoft maintains an interoperability lab in Redmond, Wash., which tests Windows and .Net code working with Java and open source products. The lab exists in part to illustrate to Microsoft customers that what they want to develop to run under Windows will work with other systems they may already have.

Aisling MacRunnels, Sun's senior VP of software marketing, joined Lewin and Martin on the stage, saying, "It's a somewhat surreal moment." The two companies have gone from tentatively letting engineering teams work together to leading a keynote address together at JavaOne, she said.

"We'll support Windows as a guest operating system on our Sun Cloud," she noted. Sun plans to make its cloud resources publicly available later this year, although plans are dependent on approval from Oracle, which is acquiring Sun.

Microsoft was a sponsor of JavaOne this year as well as lead speaker on the event's third day.

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