Thousands of programmers who are retraining in Java to fill the skills gap could be wasting their time, according to Microsoft.
Microsoft has issued the beta version of its new .net framework with no support for Java. And it said this week that developers looking at Java face a stark choice between "a career" or "work for the next 12 months".
Gordon Smillie, head of strategic business at Microsoft UK, urged programmers looking to learn e-skills to leapfrog Java and go straight to C# - despite the fact that the full .net framework is at least a year away from its final release.
Microsoft's tough stance on Java leaves IT directors facing the possibility that Java skills will be useless on Microsoft's future platform.
And, if developers accept Microsoft's advice, it could worsen the Java skills shortage that is holding back e-business.
Currently, Java is the most popular language for writing e-commerce applications. But Smillie warned that, if Microsoft's enterprise platform gains acceptance over the Sun-Oracle combination in e-business, IT directors would be making a "very bold choice" if they go for the Java approach.
Microsoft has announced support for 15 programming languages on .net - but not Java.
Joseph Chung, chief technology officer at Java-based software house ATG, said Microsoft's position was "like telling people you're going to let them learn every language except English".
"If you are really trying to maximise your net worth as a programmer, learn the skill that is in most demand," he advised.
Gartner analyst Massimo Pezzini described Microsoft's position as naive: "E-commerce is pressing everybody; users cannot afford to wait."