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Commentary: Microsoft C# a clear answer to Java criticism

Much of Microsoft's C# strategy won't be clear until the company unveils its entire New Generation Windows Services roadmap during the coming weeks.

By Mark Driver, Gartner Analyst

Much of Microsoft's C# strategy will not be clear until the company unveils its entire New Generation Windows Services (NGWS) roadmap during the coming weeks.

We expect the language to be positioned between Visual Basic and Visual C++. Visual Basic is easy to learn and programmers can develop very quickly with it, but it has significant limitations as an enterprise-level development tool. C++ is much more powerful, but as a language is not as easy to grasp.

C# is designed to combine

See news story:
Microsoft brewing Java-like language
the power of C and C++ with Visual Basic's high productivity and ease of use. It also will facilitate quick and easy development of Web-oriented applications. Despite its lack of Java heritage, it also contains some Java-like features.

Despite Microsoft's insistence that C# is not a competitor to Java, the new language is clearly an answer to the criticism of Microsoft's tool strategy without Java. It's introduction will likely mark the end of the firm's tumultuous relationship with Java.

Microsoft's own version of Java, Visual J++, will probably be relegated to a legacy toolset if not dropped outright; the company has not yet committed to include it in the next version of Visual Studio.

Microsoft will position C# less as an alternative to Java than as an attempt to provide Windows developers with many of the benefits of the Java platform, but in a form specifically targeted at Microsoft's own NGWS architecture.

In this respect, C# will be successful as a Java alternative for NGWS developers, but it is not likely to seriously threaten Java's momentum. It will, however, fill a missing link in Microsoft's development-tool strategy, and serve to head off many defections from Visual Basic and Visual C++ to Java.

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