Hi everyone. (sorry, it's a long post, but my career depends on it)

I had posted a similar question a month ago and was grateful to find
wonderful and invaluable responses from so many of you. A BIG HEARTFELT
THANKS. But I'm in need again. Being 'new' to Newsgroups, I hadn't saved
those messages anywhere and am unable to retrieve them from this server.
Nevertheless, I'm now eager to receive answers to a more specific query
concerning a career choice:

I'm a marketing guy. Though I've been using the computer since 6 years, it
was only for apps, games, Internet and more Internet. I had studied FoxPro &
C in the distant past and happen to have completed a couple of live projects
in each of them(1995) after which, I opted for a career in mktg (don't ask
why! :-). All these mktg years, I was aware of the logical bent of my mind
towards programming. And recently (July 2000), an overwhelming urge got the
better of me. I underwent training in HTML, JavaScript, Macromedia Flash, MS
FrontPage, CGI (Perl), ASP, IIS, TCP/IP, Networking (Win NT) -- basically an
introductory course in Web-Designing/Development -- my primary area of
interest. Now, a couple of web-sites wiser, I feel the need to add an OOP
Language to my armory 'to do some serious server-side development directed
towards ecommerce' (read: 'to get a better job').

Now, there is a twist. I'm a Java fan. I can't help but admire the way Java
has revolutionized Web based development. A lot of people think that it is
just the hype. But, hype = popularity = wide acceptance = employment
opportunities (In the case of Java).

But I'm a Microsoft supporter 'coz I find it awesome witnessing the leading
and sustaining power of Microsoft. And to an outsider like me, it seems MS
treats and respects it Developer community better than Sun/Netscape.
Moreover, it's so difficult to hide my excitement regarding C#.

My cousin, who's 'into' Java for the last 4 years, remarked how Java proved
to be a power thrust for his career just b'coz he opted for it when a lot of
people had not. According to him, the main reason his career catapulted is
that he worked on Java since the beginning. He asked me to check out this
newsgroup to know more about Java limitations and about C#. In short, he
asks me to hang onto C# 'from the beginning'. And I think he's right.

Folks, here are my questions (please feel free to elaborate)

1. So, given my skill set, what should I opt for? Java / C# / else??

In case you suggest Java, I have a fair idea of hot to go about it.

But if it's C#, then...

2. What does C# mean for COM/DCOM, MTS, ActiveX?

3. Should I go in for MCSE/MCSD certifications? With which exams (options)?

4. How do I go about learning C#? Do I need to know VB, C++, VC++ before
going on to C#? (I don't have any training/experience in OOP).

6. Is it going to be difficult for me to find a suitable 'Developer' job? --
I'm an Arts Graduate! Should I concentrate more on Designing? (Both are fine
with me.)

5. Does C# have absolutely nothing to do with iPlanet, Solaris, Apache,
Linux? (C# -- platform independence -- blah blah -- ....)

Suggest me some books.

I'm not in regular/frequent touch of developers, so please help me.

Thanks a lot again, eagerly waiting for your responses...

Regards,
Vikram

P.S. ==> Query no. 4. is the most important !!