April 2, 2003 9:14 AM PST

Microsoft to score new C# standard

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Microsoft is continuing its efforts to standardize its C# programming language, the software giant's competitor to Java and a foundation for its next-generation Internet services.

Microsoft on Tuesday said that the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in April will certify Microsoft's programming language C# (pronounced C sharp) and the Common Language Infrastructure (CLI), which is underlying software "plumbing" that can run applications written in different programming languages.

The ISO standardization will ease Microsoft's entry into large corporations or governments that prefer certification of commercial products from international standards bodies, Microsoft executives said.

C# is a programming language that Microsoft created as an alternative to Java, which was developed by rival Sun Microsystems. C# and CLI are fundamental components to Microsoft's Visual Studio. Net development tool and the company's strategy for selling development tools for building Web services applications.

Sun, by contrast, has not taken the path of submitting the Java language and the associated software to an international standards body. Instead, Sun has established the Java Community Process, a structure by which companies can develop and certify the Java-based specifications.

While Microsoft said that its efforts demonstrate the company's willingness to work with standards bodies, Sun officials have noted that C# and CLI only represent a subset of Microsoft's overall application development software.

The ISO certification is a result of Microsoft's ongoing standardization work with the European Computer Manufacturers Association (ECMA), a Geneva-based standards organization that publishes information technology standards. Nearly three years ago, Microsoft submitted C# and the CLI to the ECMA in an attempt to appeal to companies and government agencies that prefer to buy standardized software.

ECMA published C# and CLI as standards in December 2001. But by gaining ISO standardization, Microsoft gains a broader reach and potential appeal with companies concerned with standardization.

"There are a number of governmental organization that recognize ISO as a standards body but (don't recognize) ECMA," said Tony Goodhew, product manager with Microsoft's .Net Framework group. "This means that governmental organization can look at the ECMA standards and say, 'Yes, it's a true standard.'"

For example, Australia has a rule that allows any specification that is an ISO standard to be automatically deemed an Australian standard, Goodhew explained.

Founded in the 1947, ISO is a standards organization that addresses a huge array of products and issues, ranging from common formats for credit cards to freight containers and high-quality management techniques.

On top of an ISO seal of approval, companies can also look at the published specifications of C# and the CLI to better understand the underlying products once they purchase them, Goodhew said.

The academic community benefits perhaps more from the published specifications to do computer science research than do companies, he added.

 

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