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C Sharp

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For other uses, see C (disambiguation).

C# is a main-stream, general-purpose programming language developed at Microsoft. C# is fully object-oriented and is under continuous active development by Microsoft. C# programs are fully portable across all recent Microsoft operating systems since Windows 2000/XP (and partially on Windows 98). The latest version of C# (and its associated .NET platform) as of January 2013 is 4.0.

To execute on Windows, C# programs require the installation of the .NET Framework Common Language Runtime (CLR), a virtual machine that hides operating system details. The runtime, as it is sometimes called, is available both for Windows client computers and Microsoft Web servers. C# programs consist of .exe or .dll files, each containing Common Intermediate Language (CIL) instructions which will execute in the CLR, a manifest (table of contents), metadata pertaining to the program, and (possibly) encapsulated resources such as images or audio.

C# is deliberately similar to the Java programming language and Java platform[1].

In C# 3.0, Microsoft has added the 'var' keyword, which allows type inference[2]. For instance, one might declare: var fooString = "Hello, World!"; when in previous versions, one might have to write: string fooString = "Hello, World!";

Standards and Implementations

C# is standardized by ECMA (the ECMA-334 standard) and by ISO/IEC (the ISO/IEC 23270 standard). Microsoft’s C# for the .NET Framework is a conforming implementation of both of these standards. An independent version of the Common Language Runtime (not developed by Microsoft) is available as a result of the open source Mono Project[3]; it provides software to develop and run .NET applications on Linux, Solaris, Mac OS X, Windows, and Unix.


  1. Mark Johnson, C#: A language alternative or just J--?,
  2. Sahil Malik, A Preview of What's New in C# 3.0,
  3. Mono Project, sponsored by Novell.