.Net strategy turns up the heat in war for developer affections...Microsoft has launched a new web services programming language called Visual J# .Net in an attempt to lure developers away from arch-rival Sun. The new language allows developers to write web services applications in Java - the language pioneered by Sun - but automatically translates the code into .Net. This means Java coders can make the transition to writing in .Net without having to learn the new C# language Microsoft has written for the task. .Net is the name of Microsoft's over-arching vision for web services, a strategy it freely admits it is now betting its whole business on. The battle for developers is key to this vision because the programming skills on the ground will influence which technology companies decide to choose. Vic Gundotra, general manager, development platform and evangelism, Microsoft, said the product will allow coders to use Microsoft's popular Visual Studio environment to build on the Java language skills already out there. The new language provides both a way forward for developers currently working in J++, Microsoft's Java implementation, and a bid to win over developers from more modern J2EE environments. Gundotra added: "We're building for the existing base of J++ users who wanted a great way forward. "Also this is a great way forward for other companies that have a large amount of Java language skills in-house, but have made the choice to move over to .Net." Gundotra claimed that 15 to 20 per cent of Java developers would end up using J#. However, because of the court case between Microsoft and Sun over its use of Java, Microsoft is not allowed to provide software based on anything more recent than Java 1.4. This means many of the recent additions to Java - such as Enterprise Java Beans - are not supported by J#. Bola Rotibi, software development technologies analyst for Ovum, is sceptical as to whether Microsoft's move will really lure dedicated Java developers into the Redmond fold. She said: "This is much more about moving developers forward from J++ so they don't migrate over to Java. "I don't think this will bring serious Java developers over because it means they'll be writing for the .Net framework, and to do that you have to understand it, even if you are writing the actual code in Java. For these people who want to do this it will be easier and more sensible to move straight to .Net."