Microsoft brews up a Java-like language

C# (C-sharp) programming language rolls out of the Microsoft.Net puzzle

Microsoft on Monday rolled out a new programming language called C# (pronounced C-sharp).

Company officials have said the language has no relationship to the Java competitor, code-named Cool, that Microsoft was developing a year ago. But at the XML DevCon 2000 conference in New York, Microsoft officials said the new language will have "all of the features that Java has" -- and more.

"C# has all of the features that Java has but is not the same as Java," said Andrew Layman, software architect with Microsoft's Distributed Applications Platform Division.

Layman gave the opening keynote address at XML DevCon in New York on Monday, where he outlined for attendees Microsoft's .Net vision. Microsoft introduced Microsoft .Net (formerly code-named Next Generation Windows Services) in Redmond, Washington, last week.

Layman did not mention C# during his presentation and only spoke about the language afterward.

The language is expected to debut in alpha form as part of the Visual Studio 7 release that the company will distribute to attendees of its Professional Developers Conference in Orlando, Florida, in mid-July. Visual Studio 7 is due to ship some time next year.

Layman said that C# will include "some facilities making it easier to program XML." XML (Extensible Markup Language) is the crux of the Microsoft .Net platform; Microsoft is enabling the next versions of all of its tools, operating systems and applications with XML.

Another Microsoft executive attending the XML DevCon keynote elaborated a bit more on C#.

"The idea is to bring C++ developers into the modern world," said David Turner, technical evangelist with Microsoft's Platform Marketing Group. Consequently, C# "will have many of the characteristics of Java, Visual Basic and the like."

The new Microsoft language will include a virtual machine, for example, Turner acknowledged.

Microsoft officials have said publicly that C# has no connection to the Java killer that the company had been developing last year, which was code-named Cool. Officials acknowledged that Cool was a set of C++ extensions on which the company was working. But developers briefed by Microsoft said that Microsoft was positioning Cool as a language that would be a head-to-head competitor with Java.

"If C# is a language that will allow Microsoft to further make its languages more Java-like, with garbage collection and a virtual machine, it very much sounds like Cool," said Aberdeen Group analyst Dana Gardner.

Gardner, who said he had yet to be briefed by Microsoft on C#, added that the new language may allow Microsoft to "get out of the Java jam that they've been in for some time."

Microsoft is still embroiled in a lawsuit with Sun Microsystems over Java.

Microsoft officials steadfastly have refused to say whether they plan to include a version of Microsoft Visual J++, Microsoft's Java for Windows, in Visual Studio 7. C# could end up as the alternative for Microsoft in this space. What do you think? Tell the Mailroom. And read what others have said.

Rupert Goodwins thinks that when it arrives, .NET won't work and Microsoft will be culpably unprepared to survive. Go to AnchorDesk UK for the news comment.

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