At the company's VSLive conference in Orlando in September, Microsoft VP Soma Somasegar talked about a study --...
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sponsored by Microsoft, of course, that looked at the benefits of using Visual Studio .NET over a Java-based development platform. This appears to be nothing more than the latest in a string of reports over the past few years that Microsoft pays to insert messages into the marketplace that otherwise would have never found their way there. In particular, this Microsoft-financed study asserted that its .NET development environment is superior to comparable Java environments such as IBM's WebSphere middleware platform.
Without getting into the legitimacy and credibility of a commissioned study, what is truly astonishing is Microsoft's claims that a .NET development environment provides better application performance and productivity than Java. Clearly, this assertion is based more on fantasy than reality. Commissioned studies will often do that.
Putting commissioned studies aside, the simple truth in our opinion is that .NET is not only years behind Java in terms of productivity and Application performance, but its use by the developer community has not seen significant growth when compared alongside Java's momentum. In looking more closely, in particular, a couple of key myths can be easily decommissioned.
Myth #1: .NET development environments are more productive than Java development environments
In this recent Microsoft-financed study, they found that development on the .NET platform in a Microsoft environment took fewer man hours than development on the Java platform. The critical piece missing from these findings is that .NET development can only exist in a Microsoft environment. That is, in most cases where businesses are running a mixed IT environment, .NET development time will rise dramatically.
Research from a major third party IT analyst firm has stated "J2EE's richer features can reduce the effort to build a Web application by perhaps 20 to 40 percent." While .NET contains several advantages in the software development process, again, this development is restricted to a strict Microsoft environment. The beauty of technology such as Java is that it is built to open standards and you automatically are provided with increased productivity and increased ease of use. Java applications are not tied to specific operating systems and easily integrate with existing applications. A no-hassle approach to development means increased productivity for developers.
Myth #2: Developer momentum for .NET is growing
Unlike commissioned studies, third party analysts conduct research that produces the results that the buyer is looking for. More reputable reports found that nearly 74 percent of professional developers in North America used Java as their primary language in 2001, and estimates that the Java IDE market will more than double from its 2001 size in the next five years to $453 million in 2006. Additionally Java developers are expected to quadruple from 700,000 in 2003 to 2.8 million by 2007.
Clearly, Microsoft is nervous about the future of .NET and its success or failure as a development platform. Increasingly, more and more developers are realizing the benefits of Java over .NET and are turning to Java platforms like WebSphere.
While commissioned studies are great ego boosters, the fact of the matter is that reports like these do nothing but call into question the legitimacy of Microsoft and its leadership in the industry.
About the author
Bob Cancilla is managing director and founder of a 6500 member computer users group -- the International Group for Networking, Internet Technologies and eBusiness on the AS/400 (IGNITe/400). IGNITe/400 is an association of users and developers that are dedicated to the world wide implementation of e-business and e-commerce applications.