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Gartner: ECMA Standardization of C# to Have Little Effect on Java

An analyst at Gartner this week says the ECMA approval as standards of Microsoft's C# programming language and the Common Language Infrastructure that C# runs on will have little effect on Java.

"ECMA's approval does little to give C# the key characteristic of Java -— its ability to operate on all computing platforms," according to the bulletin based on research by David Smith, a Gartner analyst for Internet strategies.

Microsoft announced last week the ECMA approval, which the company portrays as a "a milestone in the industry’s standardization efforts around XML Web services as well as programming language innovation." The company also emphasized industry support for C# and the Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) in the form of contributions to the specification from Hewlett-Packard, IBM Corp., Intel Corp. and Netscape Communications Corp.

CLI is a subset of the .NET Framework, which Microsoft will launch in February. CLI includes the Common Language Runtime and other parts of the .NET platform.

The ECMA ratification is a black eye for Sun, which submitted Java to the ECMA then withdrew it last year. Microsoft submitted C# and CLI to ECMA in October 2000.

Microsoft positions C# as providing .NET developers with many of the benefits of the Java language, but Gartner expects Microsoft to try to use C# and its .NET Framework "to dampen Java's growing critical mass among developers."

"Accordingly, the ECMA approval represents a victory of sorts for Microsoft," Gartner's Smith says. "In a small way, Microsoft has shown that it has gone further to make C# a language that's 'open' to all developers. For most people, though, Java remains open enough."

Smith argues that the bigger issue is whether .NET will run on platforms other than Windows.

" Gartner sees little business incentive for Microsoft to want to promote all of .NET on alternate platforms," Smith notes. "As a result, Gartner predicts little or no impact on Java."

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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