Microsoft will release a public beta of Visual J++ 6.0, the next version of its Java development package, to its Web site by the end of the month. Attendees at this week's Internet World conference in Los Angeles will get a sneak peak at the new product, which utilizes the new "Vegas" user interface that Microsoft is planning to use in all of its next-generation programming tools.

In addition to the new, more visual environment, Visual J++ 6.0 will allow Java developers to more easily create server-side applications that work with Microsoft's Web server platform, IIS. In fact, this release really de-emphasizes client-side Java code (where you would create a Web applet or application program that runs on a user's computer) in favor of component creation for IIS. Microsoft is preaching the use of Dynamic HTML instead of Java for Web front-ends since it is faster and easier to write.

Not unexpectedly, Visual J++ 6.0 offers no support for building or using JavaBeans, the client-side component technology developed by Sun that is similar to ActiveX controls. Microsoft has created a new Windows API for Java, however, called the Windows Foundation Classes that allows Java programmers to write Windows-specific applications. A new debugger that works over any distributed network allows you to step through Java, HTML, JavaScript, and VBScript code all from a single interface