C# Could Be Major; MS Sings an Ambitious Tune

SAN MATEO (06/30/2000) - Microsoft Corp.'s recently announced C# development language, although still a sketchy product blueprint, could help the company gain credibility in the market for enterprise and Web development, according to observers.

The Redmond, Washington, software giant last week provided details about its new language, which is a derivative of C and C++, that developers can use to write to the .NET platform.

Although C# has been characterized as a would-be Java killer, developers still choose a language based on the platform they are writing to, argued Richard Soley, chairman and CEO of The Object Management Group Inc. (OMG), in Needham, Massachusetts.

If Microsoft is serious about C#, OMG will support it with CORBA the same way it does with C, C++, Cobol, and Java, Soley said.

Moreover, C# and the .NET platform will not chase the CORBA and Java combination out of developers' toolkits anytime soon because companies still need a way to access established enterprise resources, Soley added.

"I don't know if the world is ready for another language now, but if anybody can do it, it's Microsoft," Soley said. "If C# is going to be a success, it will depend on how seriously Microsoft pushes it into its developers' hands."

Bill Dunlap, lead product manager for Microsoft Visual Studio, said that Microsoft aimed to make C# easier to use than its predecessors.

"No one ever accused C++ of being a highly productive language," Dunlap said.

To increase productivity, Microsoft simplified the syntax to prevent developers from making common errors. For instance, the garbage collection feature automates memory management. Also, variables in C# are automatically initialized by the environment and are type-safe.

Microsoft said that C# is designed for building components that can then be converted into Web services with little coding. In turn, the language can make existing Web services look similar to native objects.

Additionally, C# will be capable of using Visual Studio's common run-time package, which operates much like a Java virtual machine, enabling developers to create components and integrate them across all the products in an enterprise, according to Sam Patterson, CEO of ComponentSource, in Marietta, Georgia.

Rumors have circulated about C# being released as open source, at least in part. But Microsoft has not yet indicated whether it plans to go that route, according to Tom Murphy, a program director at market research firm Meta Group Inc., in Temecula, California.

"If [Microsoft] wants to be aggressive, they will try to get partners to build for it, and that will require it being open source or at least some of it being open source," Murphy said.

Where C# is today

Microsoft has released preliminary details of the forthcoming tool.

Combination of C and C++

Accessible to Visual Basic developers

Common run-time language

Capable of using RAD (rapid application development) for the server tools in Visual Studio.NETTuned for .NET

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