Matt & some commentors on his thread have raised some interesting points/questions. Instead of responding there, I decided to post an entry here.
A little bit of history. Mainsoft the company that does Visual Mainwin used to be my previous employer’s (www.bristol.com) competitor. Both our companies helped customers port their VC++ code to UNIX environments. Both the companies licensed Microsoft source code and ported it to unix & provided tools to support the porting. Microsoft created this market expecting UNIX developers to start coding using VC++(Mainsoft even ported Visual Studio – Visual Mainwin) and migrate to windows. At this point in time UNIX beat windows (4.X NT at the time) hands down in terms of stability, performace etc. What ended up happening was, Companies started porting to their code to UNIX environments. Microsoft decided to kill the market by stopping the licensing of their source code (WISE agreement). Meanwhile this market died when most companies decided to move from thick clients to thin clients. Mainsoft has decided come up with a bridge to support .NET applications on J2EE. 2 important questions have been raised.
Visual Studio as a development environment: Having worked on both environments extensively I would rank Visual Studio as a better environment when compared to Eclipse. Eclipse is getting there but it still misses some intutive stuff that Visual Studio provides. You got to give that microsoft. They are good at building tools and simplifying the GUI. The point in question here is that would people using Visual Mainwin to write their java code? I DONT think so. Explaination later.
Porting .NET code to Java: This is viable market and a viable solution! As Webservices & standards start to mature this would become a reality. Im betting that Windows forms is going to be much better than the corresponding Java Solutions. Microsoft has extensive experience developing UI/GUI applications/tools/environments while SUN/Java is still learning the ropes.
While working with my previous employer, we found that customers wanted to stick their development environments but wanted tools/plugins within that environment to support the porting/migration. For example someone like you would want to stick to eclipse and develop your code. Also if the teams are bigger which is the case in most corporations, you are going to have 2 teams one to develop J2EE components/code and one to develop .NET code (Unless they find many dominic’s ;)).
Bottom line: Mainsoft Binary compiler & it related tools would be a good fit while Visual Mainwin might not be a hit!
P.S: I speak for myself and no one else!