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Microsoft’s new ‘M’ programming language

In a software-centric world where we already have many, many languages to program in, from scripting to bytecode compiled languages, to frameworks on top of languages and embedded languages, now Redmond wants to bring ANOTHER language to the table, titled ‘M’ (for Microsoft?).

The new language is to be a part of Microsoft’s new Oslo development and service-oriented strategy, incorporating features from XAML while being textual and domain-specific. M is to be used directly with 2 other components to be released with M along with Visual Studio 2010: Quadrant, a tool for building models visually, and a repository for storing and viewing models in an SQL database.

Microsoft has not said much other than that about the new language, but it will presumably be a compiled .net language (goodbye true native code), and from what Microsoft said, M is to strive to be cross-platform…. with a catch.

By “cross platform”, Microsoft means, “cross platform as long the other platform authors write a backend for the code, and the SQL database MUST be hosted on MS SQL, a proprietary Microsoft Windows service”. It makes perfect sense for being cross platform, if you are Microsoft and trying to purchase many copies of Windows (therefore generating revenue, and presumably the version is Vista or win2k8 since XP is out).

Another source says the language is actually their ‘D’ language (and no, Microsoft did not originally invent D either), only revamped to fit into their new Oslo modeling strategy and renamed to a further letter down the alphabet to attract new interest in an old product. While this may be mostly true, D, which was never really promoted as a .net compilable language (it just kinda disappeared) had many flaws and never really caught on although some were enthusiastic about it (just like Bill Gates said we would write code for OS/2 for the next 10 years after its release).

The fundamentals and principals of the language are attractive, especially for OOP, but its ties to MS SQL and .net would only really make it attractive to Windows-specific applications, although its integration with ASP.net is unclear at this point. The mono project does a descent job of allowing .net code to run on non-windows platforms, and if M adheres to the same standards then after a given time M-written applications will be penguin-friendly as well if Microsoft can get around the MS SQL dependency.

Time will only tell how many will actually use the language outright before Microsoft finds a way to force programmers to use it, most likely by dropping support for some features in all languages except M to promote its usage. For now it appears that the only “non-visual” C/C++ code encouraged for usage with Windows by Microsoft is in fact Windows itself, given the fact that Microsoft’s programmers are on Microsoft’s payroll. But if all newbie programmers learn these new languages, who will manage the billions of lines of C and C++ we currently use in the future, unless it is implied to be completely be rewritten? I’m sure the folks from the original Bell labs team would be interested in the answer to these questions as well.

(Source: http://thecoffeedesk.com/news/index.php/archives/74)

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