“We want to create a platform where there can be innovation. Who’s helping COBOL programmers today? Who’s taking them to the Web? Only on the .NET platform can you embed Fujitsu COBOL in an ASP page. I mean it’s truly revolutionary” (from Deep Inside C#: An Interview with Microsoft Chief Architect Anders Hejlsberg – do read the comments on this interview, there is a link on the bottom of the page). Bringing a forty year old batch-oriented programming language to the Web is revolutionary – is Microsoft doing comedy these days?
Seriously now. Dot-net is not the first runtime environment to stand “above” the operating system. I recall the UCSD p-system, programmed in Pascal, from the late 1970’s. There was BCPL. There’s the Pascal compiler of the famous British BBC computer, made by Acorn, that used a comparable environment – and that’s what I used to teach myself programming. Even Smalltalk could be put in the same category, if you care to stretch a few things. And of course there’s the Java Virtual Machine. Only Java can be accused of being component-oriented, but all of them allow you to call native code. If you want to mix languages for these environments, all it takes is a compiler: build an ADA-to-Pcode compiler and you’re ready to roll. Use IBM’s NetREXX or JPython to write code for the JVM. Etc. etc.
So what is Dot-net all about? The way I see it, Microsoft has clearly understood that C and C++ are not good enough to counter the Java movement, and now they are trying to strike back with a language-cum-environment that is nothing but a combination of a C/C++ remake and some librairies (“runtime”) to keep COM and DCOM going. Now why am I not impressed?
Humor does belong on the Internet: read all about Election Fun in November 2000 ;-)