Microsoft Announces New Programming Language

Microsoft announces C# ("C sharp"), a new object-oriented programming language derived from C++ but adding features to take advantage of XML.

While Visual J++ languishes in court through a drawn-out lawsuit between Microsoft and Sun Microsystems, Microsoft recently announced C# ("C sharp), a new object-oriented programming language derived from C++ but adding features to take advantage of XML. A pre-release will be available to attendees of PDC, Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference, taking place in Orlando starting on July 11.

Primarily intended for C and C++ developers, the new language was developed, according to Tony Goodhew, Technical Product Manager, with three goals: 1) it "solves today's business problems," including the integration of disparate systems; 2) it "acts as a productive language"; and 3) it's "true to the heritage of C and C++." Microsoft said the new language will enable developers to more easily build Web services for use across the Internet.

Microsoft has submitted the language specifications to ECMA, an international standards body, for standardization.

The company is using C# to write aspects of its Next Generation Windows Services (NGWS) platform, recently renamed .NET ("dot-net"). C# will appear in a future version of Visual Studio, Microsoft's suite of development tools, which includes Visual Basic and Visual C++. Although a new edition of VS was expected to surface this year, Goodhew said the company was now debating about whether or not to offer a midpoint release. This release, if it appeared, would provide updates with Windows 2000-related tools as well as the Web Services Toolkit.

Rather than following the current numbering scheme (such as Visual Basic 6.0), the next version of Visual Studio will include tools renamed with the .NET extension, for example, Visual Basic.NET and Visual C++.NET.

Goodhew said training materials would be available from launch of the pre-release version of C#. He was unsure about plans for Microsoft certification exams around the new language.

An overview is available on Microsoft's Web site at

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