In the 90s, a consortium consisting of Oracle, Sun, IBM and Novell wanted to create a "thin client" sort of client/server architecture. At your desktop would be something later called a JavaStation. This diskless workstation would download software from the server, and all your files would be saved there. The consortium made a foolish mistake of announcing vaporware and saying that they'd starve Microsoft of oxygen. This foolish mistake gave MS enough lead time to try to build a replacement client/server architecture to defeat the consortium; just over a decade later, Oracle purchased Sun, and Novell Netware has gone from being the #1 office networking architecture to "dustheap of history".
Java was originally touted as the "write once, run everywhere" language. It used operating system-independent runtimes (called JVM). While Microsoft tried to so something similar with NT (supporting a hardware abstraction level that allowed it to be run on chipsets including MIPS and Alpha along with the Intel architecture).
The .NET framework was a "me too" product to try to steal the oxygen of Sun by making (at least theoretically) an alternative run-time that was independent of operating systems. Not long after the time that .NET made a reasonably successful appearance on the marketplace, MS gave up the idea of making CLR/CIL runtimes for anything but Microsoft operating systems (the Mono framework is a futile attempt to make runtimes for other operating systems but suffers from patent threats that occasionally come out of Redmond which is why it too will end up on the dustheap of history alongside Win32 runtimes).
I think IBM totally went Java as an overreaction to the OS/2 and Win32 runtime fiasco. It is my belief that they would go back to COBOL and punch cards before they would get tangled up with Microsoft again.
It was Bill Gates who didn't understand the internet and because he set the tone for Microsoft back then, the entire company got off to a very late start.
Then again, we seem to have Silverlight as MS's attempt to bastardize the internet into an MS-centric platform.
Silverlight is an attempt to replace Flash (which I hate) with something that can only run on browsers that Microsoft feels like supporting at their whim (which is why I don't work with Silverlight even though it is a far superior technology). Developers who remember Microsoft's behavior in the 90s will stay away from Silverlight as it will totally lock them in, much like the early issues with activex controls in other browsers.