The future of software development is now expected to be a near 50-50 split between Java and .Net. When making a decision on which technology to bank on, you should really research what types of companies use which technology, and which fits into your career aspirations. Java and .Net overlap in a lot of markets and inevitably each will form definitive niches that will be hard to break until newer model-based programming technologies take over.? Payton Byrd, Java vs .Net - The Professional Software Developer's Survival Guide
For Microsoft developers:
.NET is a good thing for those of you committed to Microsoft architectures. ASP+ is better than ASP, ADO+ is better, but different, than ADO and DCOM, C# is better than C and C++. The initial version of .NET won't be real until sometime in 2001, so you have some time to prepare, but this will undoubtedly become the default development environment for Microsoft platforms. And if you're developing within the Microsoft development framework now, you will undoubtedly benefit from adopting elements of the .NET framework into your architectures.
However, several of the goals of the .NET platform are fairly lofty and not at all guaranteed to fly, at least not in the short term. The IL common language runtime, for example, has some fairly significant hurdles to overcome before it has any real payoff for developers. Each language that wants to integrate with the component runtime has to define a subset/superset of the language that maps cleanly into and out of the IL runtime, and has to define constructs that provide the component metadata that IL requires. Then compilers (x-to-IL and IL-to-x) will have to be developed to both compile language structures (objects, components, etc.) into IL component bytecodes, and also generate language-specific interfaces to existing IL components.
There is some historical precedence here. Numerous bridges from non-Java languages to the Java VM have been developed, such as JPython, PERCobol, the ...