Microsoft turns back on Java development with C#

Microsoft has made an early strike at Java, unveiling a Java-like language, which will form the core of its next generation services.

With the majority of Microsoft’s .NET strategy still under wraps, Bill Gates’ company has made an early strike at Java, unveiling a Java-like language, which will form the core of its next generation services.

With C# (pronounced C Sharp) Microsoft intends to leverage on the heritage of its C++ developer community to rapidly generate cross platform applications for any device.

“C# will reduce the level of code that developers have to produce to develop an application, enhancing their productivity,” Tony Goodhew, product manager, C++, told a press conference at Tech Ed, attended by ACN.

“The new language is similar to C++ but with enhanced productivity, enabling developers to produce applications that are platform agnostic,” he added.

Next Generation

According to Mark Driver, research director for the Gartner Group, C# is the software giant’s response to the growing criticism of its tools strategy without Java.

“C# will contain many Java like features that better enable developers to target Microsoft’s recently announced next generation .NET architecture,” said Driver in a report obtained by ACN.

“In any event, the introduction of C# will likely mark the end of Microsoft’s tumultuous relationships with Java,” he added.

Just before going to press Microsoft announced it had dropped support for Visual J ++ in the early preview versions of Visual Studio 7, renamed Visual Studio.NET, the company’s next generation development environment.

Goodhew was defensive about the fate of Visual J++, saying that the contract court case currently underway in the US, with Sun Microsystems had prevented the software giant moving the development of Visual J forward. “This case came forward in mid 1997, and its now July 2000 and we still don’t have a ‘go to trial date.’”

What remains unclear, and will do so until more is known about Microsoft’s .NET strategy is the actual positioning of C# to the developer community.

Driver predicts, that on the surface C# will be positioned less as an alternative to the write once, run anywhere programming language and more of an attempt to provide .NET developers with many of the benefits of Java.

“However,” Driver adds, “Gartner expects Microsoft to target C# and its .NET framework not only at Microsoft developers but at Java vendors and technology providers in an effort to dampen Java’s growing critical mass amongst developers.”


The delivery timetable for Visual Sutdio.NET, is vague. According to Goodhew, developers can expect the initial beta version of VS.NET sometime in the autumn of this year.

“In a similar way to the development and testing of Windows 2000, we’re going to be working very closely with our partners and customers to decide when the product is ready to launch. We expect the ‘real world’ testing of these products to provide a great vehicle for release.

"There is no concrete release date, but we expect the next generation of all our of tools to come out at the same time, or if not then very close together.”

But with VS.NET still in the pipeline the software heavyweight has already put the Java like language forward to EMCA for standardisation, a move that Driver belives, is designed to undermine Sun’s stewardship of the Java programming language.

But any standardisation will take some time, even with support from other large software companies, such as IBM. According to Gartner Group analyst, John Enck the standardisation process for C# “won’t happen any time soon.”

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