Borland Catches .Net

Borland's .Net licensing deal bolsters Microsoft's development technology in its battle with Java.

Borland Software Corp.s deal to license Microsoft Corp.s .Net Framework Software Development Kit, announced last week, underscores Microsofts efforts to further distribute its development technology in its battle with Java.

In fact, getting third parties to distribute .Net technology in their products parallels what the courts have done for Java in ordering Microsoft to carry the Sun Microsystems Inc. technology in its operating system.

"It certainly is a new turn on the [Java 2 Enterprise Edition] versus .Net competition," said Aidan OBrien, principal consultant with AA Computing Ltd., of Mississauga, Ontario. OBrien called Borlands move "a bit of a contrast to the court-ordered inclusion of Suns Java in Windows XP."

Drew Engstrom, senior Web services strategist for Sun, in Santa Clara, Calif., said: "No surprises here. Borland has always positioned itself as the Switzerland of software development, and they already offer some .Net migration technology. Borland gets the majority of its revenue from JBuilder, which is built for enterprise Java development."

By taking the lead in redistributing a key part of Microsofts .Net platform to developers through its tools, Borland, of Scotts Valley, Calif., ensures its customers that their applications will be compatible with current generations of Microsofts platform.

In addition, by presenting an independent alternative for enterprise developers, Borland can prevent the so-called Microsoft lock-in. Many developers try to avoid being locked in to using Microsoft applications and software components, for which the companys tools have been optimized.

Microsoft, for its part, said it would like to see more companies license the .Net Framework SDK.

"Microsoft is pleased that Borland has agreed to license this technology," said John Montgomery, group product manager with Microsofts platforms division, in Redmond, Wash. "Microsoft is open to licensing it to other ISVs. To date, Microsoft has already had more than 14 million downloads of the .Net Framework through Windows Update, and its great to see Borland helping to get this technology onto users systems."

Borland CEO Dale Fuller said Borlands deal with Microsoft will strengthen his companys position as the last major independent development tools company. "Borland is first to secure distribution rights to the .Net Framework. We represent the only independent path to .Net," Fuller said.

Officials said Borland will deliver a suite of tools in increments throughout this year to support the entire .Net application development life cycle. Borland will also deliver a similar suite for Java developers.

"The deal is great for the Borland developer community, [which] now can reduce their learning curve and costs for adopting .Net by sticking to the tool set that they are used to," said Sam Patterson, CEO of ComponentSource Inc., in Atlanta.

"Moreover, it continues Borlands strong enterprise play so that they are able to handle any type of enterprise with their tool set instead of possibly losing developers to Visual Studio .Net," Patterson said.

Mike Gilpin, an analyst with Giga Information Group Inc., a Cambridge, Mass., market research company, said, given Borlands strategy to keep its feet in both the Java and .Net camps, "this is a logical decision that supports that strategy. Historically, Borland has been the only company other than Microsoft that has made consistently great tools for building Windows applications. This will enable them to keep doing that for the most current generation of Windows technology."

"I think it is all good," said Stephen Forte, chief technology officer at Corzen Inc., a New York-based online information delivery service.

"Vendors support Java. If they want to make money, they should also support the other big development platform, .Net," Forte said. "So it will be great for everyone around. Specifically, this means that tools like Delphi will get .Net-ified, and there may even be some non-Microsoft competition to Visual Studio."