Is it time to retire the legacy C and C++ programming languages, and turn to the high-flying Rust language instead? A prominent Microsoft official believes so.
In a tweet on September 19, Mark Russinovich, CTO of Microsoft Azure, suggested that the day has come to move to Rust for new development not involving garbage collection languages. Russinovich wrote:
Speaking of languages, it’s time to halt starting any new projects in C/C++ and use Rust for those scenarios where a non-GC language is required. For the sake of security and reliability, the industry should declare those languages as deprecated.
Begun as a Mozilla research project, Rust was designed to be memory safe, fast, and reasonably easy for developers to use. Rust 1.0 version arrived in 2015. The language has steadily gained adherents and is updated almost monthly. Rust recently gained its own dedicated security team and is expected to soon be accepted into the Linux kernel.
The C language and its derivative C++ date back to the 1970s but remain popular, with C favored for bare-metal compatibility and performance and C++ often leveraged in applications such as machine learning and databases. C++ has been the object of modernisation efforts.
The Cppfront project, from prominent C++ developer Herb Sutter, is an experimental compiler for an alternate syntax that would make the language safer and easier. Another project, Carbon, aims to be an interoperable successor to C++, one that overcomes the difficulties involved in improving C++, which Carbon proponents describe as “saddled with decades of technical debt.”
Rust, which compiles to native machine code, is considered on par with C in terms of performance. However, not everyone was immediately on board with Russinovich’s suggestion.
One commenter wrote, “I’ll have to respectfully disagree; Rust may have safer defaults, but it has not been in production long enough to been proven ready to replace C or C++.” Another was more adamant: “Please no, programming in Rust feels like bashing my head against a wall.”
For the time being, it appears that Rust’s popularity will continue to grow, but also that C and C++ will continue to stick around.