Survey: Windows Developers Are Enjoying Java

While Microsoft Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. duke it out over Java, many Windows developers are developing a keen appreciation for the language. In fact, a new survey of Windows developers finds that the proportion using Java on a full-time basis has more than doubled over the past year. Fourteen percent of respondents report using Java a majority of the time, up from 12 percent last summer. Five percent of the respondents report using Java exclusively, compared with 2 percent in the previous survey.

Conducted by Evans Marketing Research (Santa Cruz, Calif.,, this independent research was the second in a continuing series of developer opinion surveys, the results of which are provided to subscribing companies. Participants were solicited at industry trade shows throughout the United States, and then contacted by phone for interviews.

The survey confirms that "the Java language is growing," says Janel Garvin, director of research for Evans Marketing. "C++ and Visual Basic -- the leading languages -- are eroding at the top end." This doesn't mean that overall usage of these languages is declining, but developers are "spending less time with these languages," Garvin explains. "That time is going into Java." In the most recent survey, 59 percent of the developers report coding in C++ a majority of the time, down from 76 percent in the previous survey.

Java was the only language that showed an expected increase in both users and usage over the coming year. One out of five programmers, 20 percent, say they will be working in Java a majority of the time by early next year. Java will become "the language of choice" for client/server applications within the next 3 years, Garvin says. Two out of five programmers, 40 percent -- the largest response for any group -- now see Java as the best choice for client-based applications, Garvin points out. "The people that are using Java are starting to get religious; they're no longer just kicking the tires," Garvin says. "They now believe that Java is going to continue to grow into the future."

However, when it comes to the server side, almost half of the respondents, 49 percent, do not feel Java is robust enough for server-based applications. This compares with 33 percent that feel Java is appropriate for servers. The main obstacle to Java's acceptance as a mainstream language is seen as Microsoft's stance on the language, cited by nearly a third of the respondents. The survey was conducted before Sun announced it was suing Microsoft over changes in Microsoft's version of the language, Garvin says.

Java developers tend to be more attuned to multitier architectures and middleware, Garvin adds. Overall, use of middleware standards, including OLE and ActiveX, has grown.