Microsoft spins Rotor tools update

Microsoft Corp. this week posted an update to its Shared Source Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) implementation, codenamed Rotor, which adds support for Mac OS X.

Rotor is described by Microsoft as a compressed archive of source code to a working implementation of the ECMA CLI and ECMA C# language specification. It provides a resource for academics and researchers to explore programming language concepts for Microsoft .NET developers interested in studying the technology.

"The CLI contains the specifications for a runtime engine that can run programming language code," said John Montgomery, Microsoft group product manager for developer platform, in Redmond, Wash. CLI is the core part of the .NET Framework for functions such as managing object creation and memory.

To promote its .NET Framework, Microsoft has submitted an implementation of the C# programming language and CLI to ISO as standards, he said. "The main reason [for the submission] had to do with overcoming the customer perception that Microsoft is somehow entirely built on proprietary standards," Montgomery said.

New features in the Shared Source CLI include support for Mac OS X, additional code cleanup and bug fixes, debugger improvements, class reference documentation and additional samples, build system improvements, and more test cases and tool upgrades, according to Microsoft.

Shared Source CLI features about 3 million lines of code and is available for research and academics. The software can be used for non-commercial purposes.

An analyst noted the restrictions on use of the Rotor technology. "What you can do with Rotor is somewhat limited," said Thomas Murphy, senior program director at Meta Group Inc., which is based in Stamford, Conn.

"It isn't [for] commercial products. It isn't something you would normally use to develop applications on. It's more of an educational and research-oriented thing," Murphy said.

However, Murphy applauded the company's working to standardize technology with a standards body. "The key thing to me is Microsoft is trying to work with standards bodies. They are trying to move this forward," said Murphy.

Shared Source CLI features source code for an implementation of CLI to run on Windows XP, Free BSD, and Mac OS X 10; compilers to work with the Shared Source CLI for C#; development tools; documentation; sample code; and test suites.

Also featured is the Platform Layer is for porting Shared Source CLI from Windows XP to FreeBSD and Mac OS X.

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