The next version of Visual J++, code-named "Vegas," will enhance the Rapid Application Development (RAD) tool for Java, not for Visual Basic, as previously thought. Next quarter, Microsoft will begin beta-testing Vegas, which will sport a Visual Basic-like integrated development environment (IDE), according to Jon Roskill, director of marketing for the Visual Tools group.

"We try to do a good job of supporting our platform technologies with our tools," Roskill said. "We will try to include J/Direct support in the next release." J/Direct is Microsoft's new technology that allows programmers to directly access the entire Win32 API from Java.

Microsoft was expected to release a Compile-to-Java add-in for Visual Basic 5.0, or create a Vegas release that would combine Visual J++ with Visual Basic and allow programmers to target either language. While Microsoft is indeed working on this technology, Roskill says nothing is likely to come of it for a few years.

"We have looked at it, but at the level of a science project. One of the reasons it's so hard is that VB is so much more mature \[than Java\], and VB syntax doesn't map well to Java," he said. "It's not something we plan to ship in the time frame of the 1998 tools releases.