"Architecturally, [C#] is similar to Java in that it is object oriented, has garbage collection and is cross platform according to Microsoft's rules," he comments. "But really it's a cross between Visual Basic and C++."
The language was launched last week with Microsoft's .net strategy. With the Internet central to Microsoft's future plans, C# is offered as a rapid development Web applications language.
It includes support for data language XML as well as giving access to the functionality of the underlying platform. It takes features from Java which are not available in C or C++, such as increased security and garbage collection (the tidying up of memory used by a program).
Richard Hamblen, Microsoft's developer tools marketing manager, says, "It's for C++ users who want to do elegant things for the Internet. Visual Basic programmers will want to use it for the extra power."
He adds that C# would be attractive to users with "a multi-language strategy".
Although initially C# will only be available for Windows, Microsoft has submitted the specification to standards body the European Computer Manufacturers Association. This will mean that anyone can write a version of the language together with a compiler, allowing applications to be written in C# for any platform.
Microsoft has been involved in a two-year legal battle with Sun over Java. Since the case began, Microsoft has been restricted in what it can do with Java, leading to speculation that it would drop the language if it loses the case.