Gates To Lay Out Future of C++, C#

By Thor Olavsrud

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After popping into New York City Thursday to launch the Tablet PC, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates headed back to Washington state to give developers, computer scientists and students a window into the future of the C++ and C# programming languages.

On Friday afternoon, Gates will give a keynote at the venerable Association for Computing Machinery's 17th annual Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages and Applications (OOPSLA) conference in Seattle. During his keynote, Gates plans to announce the road map for the Microsoft Visual C# .NET and Visual C++ .NET programming languages, and will also demonstrate a new test-prioritization system that can help development teams locate, prioritize and address product vulnerabilities.

For C++ adherents, the big news is a new version of Visual C++ .NET "that will be 98 percent conformant to the public International Organization for Standardization (ISO) C++ standard." That means Windows developers, for the first time, will be able to use advanced ISO-defined C++ language features while also compiling and using modern C++ libraries.

"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. "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."

New features in the next version of Visual C++ will also include performance improvements for floating point operations, increased productivity for Windows Form-based development, and improved security.

Gates will also propose specifications for new features in C#, including "generics," a feature which would give C# developers the ability to create modern business frameworks using a language construct similar to that used in C++. Other proposals include anonymous methods, iterators and partial types.

Also, in an effort to help developers secure their code, Gates will unveil the new test-prioritization system, code-named "Scout." Scout, an internal tool developed by Microsoft Research, allows development teams to track in-process testing, prevent defects from entering the system through early detection, and shorten the repair process.

Finally, Gates plans to demonstrate new programmability features for the Microsoft Tablet PC.