Microsoft Announces C#, Submits Standards Proposal

FRAMINGHAM (06/26/2000) - Microsoft Corp. today formally announced its C# graphical programming language and said it's working with ECMA, an international standardization body based in Geneva, to create a standard specification aimed at letting multiple software vendors deliver the new language and supporting tools.

Microsoft also released the C# reference document that it submitted to ECMA to kick off the standards process. C# (pronounced "C sharp") is a challenge to Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java language, which is supported by Microsoft rivals such as IBM.

The new language will make its first appearance in the next version of Microsoft's Visual Studio development tool set, which is scheduled to become available for beta-testing later this year. Microsoft said full details about C# will be disclosed next month at its Professional Developers Conference in Orlando along with a "technical preview release" of the language.

Jan van den Beld, secretary general of ECMA, said in a statement that the standards body has agreed to consider Microsoft's standards proposal. He added that it is "of critical importance that this technology follow a truly open standardization approach to ensure interoperability in an interconnected world."

Sun also had been working with ECMA -- formerly known as the European Computer Manufacturers Association -- in an attempt to develop a Java standard. But the company withdrew from the standardization process last year after declining to turn over Java documentation, citing concerns that ECMA had no written policies on trademark and copyright questions.

Some users have complained Microsoft's development of a rival to Java is too little, too late. But Roger Kay, an analyst at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Massachusetts, said Sun's early missteps with Java may have left the door open for C#.

"I get the impression that the momentum for Java has really declined a lot," Kay said. "One reason is Java's performance up to now. It simply didn't run fast enough to be that effective. That meant that there was some room for alternate technology in there."

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