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C# (pronounced "C Sharp") is a programming language developed by Microsoft. It was introduced in 2002 with version 1.0 of Microsoft's .NET Framework. Since then, C# has gone through several revisions, corresponding with each .NET update. Today, it is one of the most popular programming languages for creating Windows programs and web applications.

C# is a derivative of the C programming language and is similar to C++. It uses the same basic operators as C++, is object oriented, case sensitive, and has nearly identical syntax. However, there are several differences between C# and C++. Below are just a few examples:

  • Arrays in C++ are pointers, while in C#, they are objects that may include methods and properties.
  • The bool (boolean) data type is not recognized as an integer as it is in C++.
  • The keywords typedef, extern, and static all have different meanings in C# than they do in C++.
  • C# switch statements do not support fall-through from one case to another.
  • Global methods and variables are not supported in C#, while they are in C++.

Most importantly, C# is designed specifically for Microsoft's .NET Framework. This allows developers to take advantage of all the features offered by the .NET API. However, it also means C# applications can only run on platforms that support .NET runtime, such as Windows, Windows Server, and Windows Phone. In order for programs written in C# to run on other platforms, the code must be compiled using a conversion tool like Microsoft .NET Native.

NOTE: The name "C#" comes from the musical note "C♯," implying it is a step up from the original version of C. The ♯ symbol is also comprised of four plus signs, which may imply C# is more advanced than C++ as well.

Updated: June 4, 2014

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