Microsoft to Unveil Programming Language

FRAMINGHAM (06/23/2000) - Microsoft Corp. plans to unveil a new programming language, called C#, that's intended to make it easier for Windows operating systems to interoperate with other platforms such as rival Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris.

The announcement is expected within the next few days.

But several users said the introduction of the Microsoft development language (pronounced "C sharp") is off key.

Microsoft officials claim the language will simplify the building of distributed applications that run on Microsoft's Windows 2000 or NT and can easily connect to applications written in different languages and running on different operating systems. Microsoft officials declined to say when it would ship.

"C# is a way of graphically building applications and components for Web services," said Tony Goodhew, a Microsoft product manager. "This solves the problem that customers actually have; they want interoperability between platforms, not the same code running on all platforms."

Writing code once and being able to run it on any platform has been one of the prime promises of Java, a development language promoted by Microsoft rivals IBM and Sun.

Microsoft officials wouldn't disclose how C# fits into the .Net software infrastructure the software company announced this week.

User Reaction

Some users were skeptical.

Web-based procurement outsourcer Outpurchase.com Inc. in Mountain View, Calif., began developing its application with Microsoft tools but is shifting to Java because of the cost of training developers on Microsoft's Distributed Component Object Model, said Rusty Franz, vice president of engineering.

"If (C#) were here today, I would jump on the bandwagon, but it's not even announced yet," said Franz. "It's too little, too late for our particular situation. If I'm going to make a technology change, I cannot wait around a year for something to come out."

"Our desktop will stay Microsoft, but in our Web environment, we have to worry about interoperability and developing across platforms, and Java provides that," said Pat Schmid, a software engineer at Bently Nevada Corp., a machinery services company in Minden, Nev. "The problem is that there is a significant learning curve every time Microsoft comes out with a new version of something."

Idaho Power Co. is heavily invested in Microsoft technologies but is shifting to Java for Web-based applications that run on both Windows NT and its mainframe, said Rob Eamon, systems architect at the Boise, Idaho-based electric company.

"We will take a look at C#, but I cannot see a compelling reason to learn another language or to move from Java and Visual Basic," he said.

Like Java, C# will include new security features and "garbage collection," which is an application's ability to free up memory allocated to run an application when the application shuts down, Microsoft officials said.

Kyle Mossman, a database administrator at Alaska Airlines in Seattle, said garbage collection is an important feature and one that needs to be improved in Microsoft's C++ language, but it isn't compelling enough for him to shift to C#.

"They already have too many development environments as it is," Mossman said.

"We're straight (Microsoft Internet Information Server), but we don't want to dump what we're doing and jump onto another development environment."

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