Microsoft will drop support for Sun Microsystems' Java software developers kit (SDK) next year and market a cloned toolset, said researcher Gartner.
The move is likely to spark a series of lawsuits from developers as Microsoft attempts to stem the flow of developers migrating to the Java platform, said Mark Driver, a research director at Gartner.
Speaking at the researcher's US Spring Symposium this week, Driver said Microsoft will launch a "Java-like" toolset targeted at the Win32/Com platform when its licence to use Sun's Java SDK runs out next year.
He said Java is beginning to gain acceptance in the mission-critical sector and that 75 per cent of new ebusiness applications will be written using software from either Sun or Microsoft during the next five years.
"Last year was the year of Java's transition into mainstream IT," he said. "Java is here to stay, but the transition will take several years."
The lack of Java skills could hamper the development platform's growth, however. Gartner said demand for Java skills will exceed demand for C++ knowledge next year and Driver advises employers to take claims of potential employees' CVs with a pinch of salt.
He said only 20 per cent of developers that claim to have Java experience are serious professionals, with much of the balance split between self-taught individuals and college graduates.
The financial and banking industry will be the heaviest users of Java, accounting for 37 per cent of the current market, because this sector is being forced to rewrite systems, said Driver. This is followed by higher education at 30 per cent.
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