Microsoft Java


I’ve been meaning to write something about the whole Microsoft foray into the Java language, and where we are today as a result. I know in 2012 it is hard to imagine a world where Java wasn’t just ignored or marginalized (don’t even pretend that Oracle buying out SUN didn’t drive people away) but rather there was a lot of excitement built around Java, and all the language companies were getting behind Java.  Yes this included Borland, and of course Microsoft.  And not to be left out of making a compiler, but Microsoft also wrote their own JVM, or Java virtual machine runtime.  Even more un Microsoft like, is that they provided Internet Explorer and their java on the Macintosh!

“Microsoft is offering a real Mac program at an incredibly attractive price: free. Plus, it comes with a few nifty tools you won’t find at A good Java virtual machine and just-in-time compiler, which allows you to run Java applets anywhere, not just in your browser, and even a small but robust Web server.”MacWEEK “Microsoft may have won the browser war”

Joanna Pearlstein February 28, 1997

In this brief period of cross platforming products, Microsoft also had Internet explorer for the SUN, and HP workstations (Solaris/HPUX).Even back in 1997 – 1998 Microsoft was going strong on Java, to the point they were re-writing their website to use as much java/javascript as possible, they had even created DHTML the underpinnings for what we call AJAX today.  Microsoft however didn’t capitalize a new server platform and branding for their J++, but rather relied on NT 4.0 and IIS.  Not that this was ‘bad’ or unexpected, but notice that they considered this a lesson learned in marketing and pushed for a .net server although the car people had their win to rename it to 2003.The other thing of course, was that from the 1.0 to 1.1 specification of Java, Microsoft didn’t wait for SUN to fix the language, they instead took it upon themselves to do so, and of course added in lots of Windows only functionality. This of course led to the protracted lawsuit that won Sun a nice chunk of cash, and pushed Microsoft out of the Java business. Not to have had all that effort wasted, Microsoft then took the JVM and retooled it into the .net platform that we all know and love today.  And while SUN was busy trying to make Java the new business COBOL, Microsoft has been making the .net platform business cobol, by letting people choose what language they wish to use, even… COBOL (from Fujitsu IIRC).Installing J++

So on the weekend I came across this book on “Web programming” which I’d usually laugh at for being obsolete and ignore, but it proudly mentions that the included CD includes the ‘publishers’ version of J++ 1.0!  So I checked the book, and yes the CD is still there! So for the 2-3 people that care, I even packaged this fifteen year old oddity. It’s demanding requirements are NT 4.0, or Windows 95 with sixteen (Yes sixteen!) megabytes of ram, and 100MB of free disk space.  Personally I just installed it in a blank NT 4.0 unpatched VM. It’ll install IE 3 along with it, and version 1.00.6211 of the Microsoft JVM.

Naturally even emulated, on a 3Ghz CPU with a gigabytes worth of RAM it runs and compiles quite quickly.


I know it isn’t much  to look at, and the download is small it is quite neat for the age/size… But yes, even ‘modern’ java can run “well behaved” J++ apps..

Running my J++ 1.0 hello program

As part of the trial though Microsoft had to pull everything with the JVM in it, and that included IE 3.0 “full”, 4.0 and 5.0/5.5 .. Even Windows 2000 sp3, and prior had to go.  Yes this is also why Office 97 & SQL 7 are gone from the MSDN downloads.  Maybe its my nostalgia but I really did like the 1997-1998 era and their applications.  The only reason I “upgraded” out of Outlook 98 was that 2003 can connect to Exchange 2003/2007 servers with a built in HTTP connection so I don’t have to VPN to send/receive email.

I nearly forgot about this ancient page with some applettes. Amazingly they still run.. Since my experience with Java has been largely write once, debug everywhere…

7 thoughts on “Microsoft Java

    • this thing got over 1000 views… I think younger kids were thinking that Microsoft was going to enter the java foray, now knowing that Microsoft was there at the dawn with an implementation in 1997.

      Now I just wish I saved those 1.0 MSDN/express edition things that were ~50MB, damn they were cool!

  1. I used to have MSDN 1997 the whole year on CDs. I got desperate for cash to fix my car years ago and sold it for a measly $100.

    That’s been my lesson to never sell shit ever again when I’m desperate for some cash.

  2. I’ll go everyone one better:

    I bought J++.

    I wangled a discount through my college bookstore (as a greedy alumni). I was learning Java at the time and I liked Microsoft’s JVM–it was much better on Windows than the Sun JVM (this was in part a source of their well-known legal problems.)

    I liked the IDE.

    My lesson in this is, when the landlord wants me to get rid of my old stuff, including my old copy of J++, that I at least spend the few minutes to image the CD’s and take photos of the collateral before tossing it.

    I’m not sure how the “publisher’s version” is different from the paid version (which may have been $100 or so discounted to $50.)

    • I still have J++ 1.1 from Visual Studio 97, along with PowerStation FORTRAN 4… In the box! But at the time, I did buy J++ as well, I still have the 1.1 disc, although I seem to have lost the box and all that… I think I was just blown away that it was so GREAT for creating GUI applications, but saddened that they only ran on the MS VM..

    • what a screw up that was, not only was it an all around ‘y2k’ style race for nothing, but it caused a net increase in electrical consumption.

      I wish we could just dump DST once and for all, and just force the golfers to get up early on their own.

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