Microsoft has given the first indication that it will continue supporting Java, following a court settlement with Sun earlier this week.
The company has just announced the release of Jump to .Net, a suite of tools supporting Java, signifying that users will not have to choose between the Sun-backed standard and rival Microsoft technology.
Microsoft and Sun settled a long-running lawsuit concerning Microsoft's modifications to Java earlier this week, with Microsoft agreeing to pay Sun £20m and pledging not to use "Java compatible" trademarks.
In a briefing paper US analysts Gartner had earlier advised Microsoft users who were committed to the Java programming language to look for alternatives to Microsoft technology.
Jump to .Net adds Java support to Microsoft's .Net Web services strategy, designed to enable companies to use information stored on other companies' systems for their own commercial use.
Microsoft said the Jump to .Net technology will give users a number of paths for migrating their Java language investments to the .NET Platform.
Phil Cross, developer marketing manager at Microsoft said, "Any Java developer can use Jump to .Net to take existing Java code and make it work on the .Net platform."
The technology is primarily aimed at Visual J++ developers, the Microsoft Java tools which add unauthorised Windows-based extensions to Java, provoking the Sun lawsuit.
Cross said Java developers would be able to use Jump to .Net to take existing Java applications and convert them to Web services compatible with .Net. He said that Microsoft would also provide a tool to convert Java source code to C#, the company's rival to Java.
Commenting on the news, Simon Moores, chairman of Microsoft Forums, a user association said, "It's remarkable. Java used to be the Antichrist at Microsoft 18 months ago. This announcement illustrates how far Microsoft is prepared to go to re-engineer product to support .Net."
He added that the main thrust of Microsoft's effort was around developing .Net services. "Microsoft is embracing open standards like XML - now Microsoft is supporting Java."
According to Moores, for .Net to succeed, Microsoft needs to ensure the technology is available to all types of programmers including those developing Web services in Java.
But he said that users needed to question whether they should continue to use the C# programming language put forward as an alternative to Java, now that Microsoft has committed itself to Jump to .Net.