ISO close to approving C#, CLI as standards

Two critical programming technologies developed by Microsoft Corp. for its broad .Net initiative are nearing approval by a leading international standards body, the software maker confirmed Friday.

The programming language C#, as well as the CLI (Common Language Infrastructure), have passed through a working group within the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and will likely be approved by January, said John Montgomery, group product manager with Microsoft’s .Net developer platform group.

The CLI makes up the basis for Microsoft’s Web-based runtime environment, known as the .Net Framework, used to build and deliver Web-based applications and services to computers as diverse as PDAs (personal digital assistants) and large servers. C# is a programming language designed for developing those applications and services, and is seen by some as a competitor to Sun Microsystems Inc.’s Java language.

The two Microsoft technologies have already been awarded standards status by the European Computer Manufacturers Association (ECMA), in December 2001. Microsoft and its partners in the submission, Intel Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co., said at the time that the technology would next be submitted to the ISO. The two standards groups share a “fast-track” relationship with each other that gives special preferences to technology approved by either of the groups.

The CLI and C# technologies have been reviewed by a technical committee within the ISO, which is made up of nationals from various member countries. Late last week the committee wrapped up its comment period and is putting the finishing touches on documentation for the standard, Montgomery said.

“We are within a hair’s breadth of finishing this,” he said.

When the technologies are made standard, developers will be able to design their own C# compilers, which are used to translate software code written in various programming languages into C#, or create implementations of the .Net Framework to run on operating systems other than Windows.

For example, an open-source group lead by Ximian Inc. is using the ECMA standards to create a version of the .Net Framework for Linux and Unix operating systems, known as Mono, which would allow .Net applications to run on those operating systems. Microsoft has also created its own implementation of the technology for the FreeBSD Unix operating system.

HP and Intel are also tinkering with the technology and could release their own implementations of the .Net Framework for their software and operating systems, Montgomery said. “None of the major vendors have announced anything yet, but I expect they will.”