Gates to Tout Programming Tool Advances

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2002-11-08

Gates to Tout Programming Tool Advances

Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates will announce new programming tool advancements and discuss the companys standards compliance in a speech Friday.

As keynote speaker at the Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages and Applications (OOPSLA) 2002 conference in Seattle, Gates will discuss new details about the upcoming version of Microsofts Visual Studio .Net development environment, code-named Everett. As part of his speech, Gates will unveil the road map for Microsofts Visual C# .Net and Visual C++ .Net programming environments and a new tool coming out of Microsoft Research that is code-named Scout, the company said.

Microsoft developer teams have used Scout to locate and address areas of weakness or susceptibility in products, the company said. Scout relies on a series of tests of each product to winnow out defects in products under development.

Gates is also slated to highlight enhancements to the two programming environments.

For Visual C++ .Net, Gates will show new features, including performance improvements for floating point operations, enhanced security as part of Microsofts trustworthy computing initiative and enhancements for Windows Form development.

For C# .Net, Microsoft is proposing new features in the language to be added to the European Computer Manufacturers Association (ECMA) public standard for C#. Among the new features are support for "generics" or templates familiar in the C++ world that make coding easier for developers, anonymous methods, "iterators" and partial types, all of which ease the burden development, the company said.

In addition, Gates is slated to tout Microsofts adherence to the International Organization for Standardizations (ISO) C++ standard. Company officials said the Everett release of Visual C++ .Net will be 98 percent compliant with the standard.

"Microsoft started out as a developer tools company, and we recognize the incredible importance of great tools that support a range of programming languages," Gates said in a statement. "Today we are delighted to announce an even deeper commitment to C++, in the form of greater ISO standard conformity and an emphasis on building standard libraries."

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Microsoft has taken heat from some members of the developer community for the companys reluctance to comply more fully with the ISO C++ standard. And, even now, some continue to wonder what Microsofts moves will mean.

David Lazar, Microsofts group product manager for Visual Studio .Net, said: "We heard loud and clear that ISO standards conformance is important to C++ developers. Were committed to coming through for them. Our goal is to provide optimal conformance to the standard so developers can be as successful as possible using our tools."

However, Simon Phipps, chief technology officer at Sun Microsystems Inc., seems doubtful.

"Its good to see that Microsoft is finally getting the standards drive—something that Sun has been focused passionately on for 20 years," Phipps said. "But most programmers dont find that language standards is what they need. They find that library standards is what they need."

Although not to deny that language standards are "a good thing." Phipps said programming language standardization doesnt really do much without library standardization. Thats one thing the Open Group brings to Unix."

Added Phipps: "I wonder whether Microsofts fixation with programming languages is a way to blow a smoke screen over the fact that theyre forcing developers to move from MFC [Microsoft Foundation Classes] to .Net. Thats really a radical relearning exercise."

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