Microsoft .NET Takes On Java - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Software // Enterprise Applications
News
11/13/2014
08:06 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Microsoft .NET Takes On Java

Now that Microsoft's .NET is open sourced and set to expand to Linux and OS X, can it challenge Oracle's Java?

10 Smart Tech Toys For Kids
10 Smart Tech Toys For Kids
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Microsoft announced Wednesday that it will open source the server-side components of its .NET Core stack. The move could help the company, which has been criticized in recent years for falling out of step with developers, maintain a major role in the evolution of the web. What's more, Microsoft plans to expand .NET to run, not only on Windows, as it already does, but also on OS X and Linux.

The .NET framework supports a variety of programming languages with which developers can make apps, including C++, C#, Visual Basic, and Python. It also enables a number of functions crucial to enterprise apps, such as database interactions.

Though widely used among Windows Server customers, .NET has lagged behind competitors in certain regards, unable to easily match new trends such as the increasing use of containers on Linux-based servers. "On the server side, a lot of workloads are going to the cloud," Forrester analyst Jeffrey Hammond told us in a phone interview. Companies can "forklift" the workloads to the cloud and run them on an OS like Windows or rebuild the workloads to take advantage of specific cloud services that have been separated from the underlying OS, such as OneDrive for file sharing or Amazon Simple Workflow Service for workflow management.

[Microsoft wants to help you prioritize your email In box. Read Microsoft's Answer To Death By Email: Meet Clutter.]

"For many of the functions that used to be in the OS, it doesn't make much sense to monolithically tie everything together," Hammond said. ".NET has potential to make some real advances, and to do it in a way that's compatible with things like Linux and containers, where you could have .NET services run insider Docker containers."

Over the last few years, Microsoft has lost stature with many developers and systems administrators, who felt the company was standing still, caught in PC-era protectionist tactics as the cutting edge moved toward mobile devices and the cloud. Since taking over for Steve Ballmer this year, CEO Satya Nadella has championed a cross-platform strategy that, rather than revolving around Windows, emphasizes how Microsoft's software and cloud infrastructure gives users and developers more flexibility.

In April, at its Build conference in San Francisco, Microsoft open-sourced parts of the .NET stack, including its "Roslyn" compiler. The company also established the .NET Foundation to facilitate its participation in the open source community. But with the latest news, Microsoft is taking a big step forward.

Hammond said Microsoft's vision for a cross-platform .NET framework should reassure the .NET community, which totals more than 6 million developers. Some of these developers likely felt they'd have to drop Microsoft's technologies and learn new skills to keep up, he said, but now .NET provides a more viable path forward. This path might include applying .NET skills to non-Windows products -- but then again, Windows Server and Azure are evolving alongside .NET. Last month, for example, Microsoft announced Windows Server will soon support the use of containers to separate applications running on the same server.

Developers who'd previously been put off by .NET's limitations, meanwhile, become potential converts -- and potential users of Microsoft's premium, paid developer tools, as well as Azure, its cloud infrastructure. Microsoft's struggles with Windows Phone won't seem so bad, after all, if the company can convince a sizable number of iOS and Android developers to use its tools and resources to build and host their apps.

The move also enables .NET to square off against Oracle's Java as the virtual machine of choice for developers. In recent years, .NET's ties to Windows have impeded it from competing with Java, which can run on top of a wide variety of operating systems. "This is an opportunity for Microsoft to show that .NET is a better way to move forward in a cross-platform world," said Hammond. After a period of delays and slow innovation, "Oracle has started to get Java moving again."

Microsoft has already set up a GitHub repository where developers can access the newly open sourced bits -- but the full plan won't unfold right away. .NET support for Linux and OS X is still months away, for example.

In the meantime, Microsoft will continue its attempt to establish closer ties with developers and their evolving needs. Microsoft execs said they are working closely with the Mono community, for example. Mono is an open-source project that was, before Tuesday's news, the main means of applying .NET to non-Windows operating systems. The close attention could ensure that the Mono user base doesn't fragment just as Microsoft is trying to energize its open source troops.

Apply now for the 2015 InformationWeek Elite 100, which recognizes the most innovative users of technology to advance a company's business goals. Winners will be recognized at the InformationWeek Conference, April 27-28, 2015, at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Application period ends Jan. 16, 2015.

Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Kr0e
50%
50%
Kr0e,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/2/2015 | 3:24:23 AM
Re: Much better than Java
You mean Applets, right ? To say the JVM used for servers\desktops\mobile is insecure is totally wrong, it is not less secure than any other language, even more secure than C/C++ (buffer overflow exploits, jiha). C#'s Mono is definitely less secure, in terms of code quality of the VM. And the Microsoft .NET cannot be as good as Java, since it was not always open source. Only opensource products can be safe, since many hundrets and thousands of people can verify the code. Linux Kernel vs NT Kernel. NT is crap, Linux is safe, evolving and very secure (its open source ;)) Applets are not safe, because sandboxing is a very, VERY, difficult research topic, not a single product did it right, be it adobe, java, silverlight or what ever, they are all full of flaws. 
PedroGonzales
50%
50%
PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
11/13/2014 | 6:25:11 PM
Re: Windows Forms, ADO.NET, ASP.NET
I think this is a great idea.  Microsoft money making tactics won't last forever, specially in the technology domain.  If they can get new converts to their development environment and allow developers the freedom to develop a wide variety of tools on .NET it would really help microsoft in the future.
MemphisITDude
100%
0%
MemphisITDude,
User Rank: Strategist
11/13/2014 | 6:18:16 PM
Not .NET vs Java, but Visual Studio Vs Eclipse
I think your observations about the change in strategy and emphasis on acquiring users are right on target. For a .NET "devotee" like myself, all of the accomodation to various random technologies feels like the pandering of a used car salesman trying to get someone into a car, any car, today.

As the economy got tougher, executives started to ask me the question "Hey, why I am I paying Microsoft all this money when I can get the 'free' stuff?" and my answer to them was always productivity. In my opinion, it's not C# vs Java that matters, but Visual Studio vs Eclipse. Visual Studio offers more productivity on the developer side by simply bringing some consistency. Pull a group of 10 Java developers together and chances are you'll be dealing with 10 different environments (Macs and PCs and Eclipse and IntelliJ..). Also, as another commenter correctly stated, productivity for the end user takes a hit due to a separate Java update procedure (that includes UAC prompts and a request to install the @$!# Ask toolbar) while the .NET updates just ride along with Windows.

All of that said Microsoft has a long way to go on simplifying licensing and supporting technical arguments like these outside of a big-budget corporate environment. But Azure seems to be a step in the right direction...

 
jagibbons
50%
50%
jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
11/13/2014 | 4:50:08 PM
Re: Much better than Java
Agreed. Whether you like .NET or not, Java is a security nightmare. Happy to think there might realistically be a time when it's influence is diminished.
hho927
50%
50%
hho927,
User Rank: Ninja
11/13/2014 | 1:57:05 PM
Windows Forms, ADO.NET, ASP.NET
Great but how do you get Windows Forms, ADO.NET, and ASP.NET in Linux?
midmachine
50%
50%
midmachine,
User Rank: Strategist
11/13/2014 | 10:58:14 AM
Much better than Java
About time...if it means we can finally ditch the security swiss cheese of Java hooray!
Michael Endler
50%
50%
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
11/13/2014 | 10:40:48 AM
Re: Nice update on .Net development
"It must be hard for commercial giants to embrace the open source world without undermining their money-making model in some way."

Indeed. We'll see if "undermine" is the right word, or if "disrupt" might be better. But certainly, Microsoft is changing the way it makes its money. With some notable exceptions, a lot of Microsoft's recent effort is based around accruing as many users as possible, without necessarily worrying about leveraging single products (at least compared to the way Microsoft used to worry about leverage). If people want to use .NET to write for iOS, or want to use Office on Android, or want to use Cortana on a Mac (that's coming-- just wait), Microsoft seems to be content to accommodate them.
D. Henschen
50%
50%
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
11/13/2014 | 10:18:12 AM
Nice update on .Net development
Microsoft's strength has long been in developer numbers, so this seems like a cruicial move to stanch defections and disaffection among .Net devotees. Nice roundup of history and perspectives, Michael. I wonder if there are dangers for Microsoft in giving up too much to open source? It must be hard for commercial giants to embrace the open source world without undermining their money-making model in some way.
Slideshows
What Digital Transformation Is (And Isn't)
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  12/4/2019
Commentary
Watch Out for New Barriers to Faster Software Development
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  12/3/2019
Commentary
If DevOps Is So Awesome, Why Is Your Initiative Failing?
Guest Commentary, Guest Commentary,  12/2/2019
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll