Microsoft Corp has gone off on its own Java tangent once again with the announcement of JDirect, an extension of its Java virtual machine that allows access to the full set of Win32 APIs from within a Java applet or application. It will be included in the forthcoming 4.0 release of Internet Explorer and future version of Windows 95 and Internet Information Server (IIS). With JDirect users will be able to access all the drivers, access a network, open and close windows and generally do all the things they can do on a Windows personal computer. Previously, users were limited to Sun Microsystems Inc’s Java APIs, or the subset of Win32 APIs that are exposed as interface to Microsoft’s COM Common Object Model if they wanted to integrate with Windows applications. For its part, Sun says this is just another attempt by Microsoft to lock users into Windows. It has not seen the code yet either so wouldn’t comment further. System libraries and Dynamic Link Libraries (DLLs) now don’t need to know that it’s a Java applet calling them as JDirect handles all the garbage collection. It also handles data type conversion for things like pointers, strings and strictures not supported in Java. Microsoft said it would talk to companies wanting to license JDirect. Any extension to Sun’s Java VM have to be licensed back to Sun under the terms of the licensing agreement. There are already JavaBean components that can act as bridges to ActiveX controls, but they don’t offer the same range of Windows services.