Microsoft have officials confirmed that this week the company will announce a new programming language dubbed C#.

"C# is a language derived from C and C++ that provides a way for developers to build applications and components for the .NET platform," says Tony Goodhew, Visual C++ product manager at Microsoft.

Microsoft announced the .NET platform, previously known as Next Generation Windows Services (NGWS) last Thursday at Forum 2000 on the company's Redmond, Washington campus.

"C# bears the hallmarks of a Microsoft twist on the Java goal of write-once-run-anywhere convenience, in addition to offering easier access to some of the distributed, object-oriented programming attributes of Java and other languages," according to Dana Gardner, an analyst at Aberdeen Group, a market research company in Boston.

"They seem to be saying you can use whatever tools and languages you want to craft code and design applications, and shine your code through their lens and run it on Windows. But Microsoft might face an uphill battle. They continue to be a little bit behind the momentum and cohesion to Java in the marketplace."

But Microsoft's Goodhew stresses that this in not a reaction to Java.

"The problem that Java solved is that you can write the code once and run it anywhere," Goodhew says. "The problem customers wanted solved is how to get all their different applications to work together."

Goodhew says that Microsoft is using XML in both C# and the overall .NET platform to enable disparate applications to exchange data.

C# will be included in the next version of Visual Studio, which will be called Visual Studio.NET. A pre-release of the product will be given to developers next month at Microsoft's Professional Developer's Conference.

"C# is a member of the Visual Studio family and, as a result, has the rapid application development side of things that all the Visual Studio tools have," Goodhew says.