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Microsoft Releases Beta of Java-2-C# Conversion Tool

Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday released a beta version of a tool that partially addresses a hole in the cross-platform claims of its .NET Framework -- lack of Java support.

The new tool called the Java Language Conversion Assistant (JLCA) is designed to take Java code and convert it to C#, Microsoft's own flagship language. Microsoft licensed the technology for JLCA from ArtinSoft, which will be offering its own version of the tool with broader functionality.

A major part of Microsoft's .NET Framework is a common language runtime, which accepts code written in more than 20 languages and converts it to something the Microsoft framework can execute.

.NET includes support for several languages including Perl, Python, COBOL and RPG, but direct support for Sun's Java language has been notably absent -- Microsoft's loose use of the term Java to apply to its own J++ and its new Visual J# .NET notwithstanding.

The new tool does not provide runtime support for Java, but does give shops that had developed Java applications a way to get them to .NET without wholesale recoding.

"We're targeting our tool at the bulk of Java development that's gone on to date," says Tony Goodhew, product manager in Microsoft's .NET Developer Division. The Microsoft tool will handle JSP applications and servlets.

A more full featured version from ArtinSoft, a Costa Rican firm with Microsoft and Intel as investors, will support conversion of elements of the Java 2 Enterprise Edition framework, including Enterprise Java Beans. That product will be called the JLCA Enterprise Edition and will be available in the second half of 2002.

Microsoft's tool will convert as much of the code as it can, and produce a report instructing developers about what is left.

"We're asking developers to send that list, so we can focus our resources to address the most (commonly used Java classes)," Goodhew says.

The tool will be an add-on for Visual Studio .NET, which launches next week. Microsoft plans to make it available as a free download, and provide it in all copies of Visual Studio .NET when the JLCA tool is complete around the middle of the year, Goodhew says.

Meanwhile, Goodhew maintains the tool does nothing to interfere with Microsoft's legal settlement with Sun last year over Java. "There is no Sun intellectual property involved in the production of this toolset," Goodhew says.

Microsoft's JLCA is available for download here.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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