The other shoe slams down: Microsoft's VB Java-killer

Rohit Khare (
Sat, 17 Feb 96 03:41:02 -0500

First Bell Labs' Inferno, then VB5... looks like the only beau at the ball
without a date is IBM, which has bought very seriously into Java.

I like the name of their event, though: Insiders' Technical Summit. If we did
it for our advance ILU HTTP-NG plans, we could call it the Networked OBjects
Insiders' Technical Summit: NO-BITS!

Rohit Khare

Visual Basic offering for Web to take on Java

By Martin LaMonica

Posted at 8:39 PM PT, Feb 16, 1996

Microsoft Corp. has begun quietly outlining its plans for cutting Sun
Microsystems Inc.'s Java programming language off at the knees with a Visual
Basic 5.0 offering due this fall that will allow developers to build
applications for World Wide Web servers.

Speaking at the Visual Basic Insiders' Technical Summit (VBITS) that ended
Friday in San Francisco, Microsoft officials detailed plans to support within
Visual Basic (VB) an OLE Document Objects specification that will let VB
applications be launched from Web browsers.

This specification is part of the Sweeper API extensions for Microsoft's
operating systems. The Sweeper APIs will be used in concert with OLE
extensions to let users read Web server documents, including VB applications,
in their native format.

This effort will be further enhanced by a deal between Microsoft and
NetManage Inc., a Cupertino, Calif.-based provider of TCP/IP software. In
April, the two companies will release a set of OLE custom controls (OCXes)
that will allow users to plug in Internet protocols to existing Windows

The crux of VB's Web push is the ability to create OCXes, the equivalent of
Java applets, that conform to Microsoft's OCX96 specification.

OCX96-compliant controls are about one-third the size of current OCXes and
thus more suitable for transmission from Web servers across the Internet, said
Jon Roskill, Visual Basic marketing director.

Although few developers said they are currently creating Web applications,
many VBITS attendees said Microsoft's migration strategy is compelling.

"We have about 30 Visual Basic programmers and zero Java developers. So we
can get into the Internet without having to go through a ramp-up period," said
Martin Pavlovic, senior multimedia developer at Andersen Consulting Inc., in
St. Charles, Ill.

Developers also noted Visual Basic is more complete than Java in its database
support and more expandable via third-party products.

"Java probably has about half of the capability that Visual Basic has, like
remote database access [over the Internet]. It's a whole integrated solution,"
said Richard DiBiasio, director of software development at Fidelity
Investments Co.'s imaging group, in Boston.

Sun this week will try to counter the criticism by addressing a key missing
link in Java's database support technology. It will launch Java Database
Connectivity, a database access standard that lets Java applets connect
directly to SQL databases.

Several third-party vendors announced products at the Visual Basic Insiders'
Technical Summit conference.

Rational Software Corp. will release at the end of March Rational Rose Visual
Basic, priced at $2,400, an analysis and design tool for Visual Basic (VB)

Progress Software Corp. showed two new Visual Basic 4.0 component bundles.
PowerPak 2.0, which enables team development, will cost $699 and will ship
later this month. RadBench, priced at $119 and available next month, is a set
of project management components.

Wayfarer Communications Inc. released Wayfarer QuickServer, a messaging
middleware package that lets users deploy VB applications over the World Wide
Web. The kit costs $499; the middleware costs $5,000 plus $100 per concurrent