You might have heard of Python, a popular and powerful cross-platform open-source programming language. Python, which is the creation of Jim Hugunin, is described as "an interpreted, interactive, object-oriented programming language ... often compared to Tcl, Perl, Scheme, or Java." The basic description says a lot; for more information, see the Python Web site. Even behemoths such as Google rely heavily on Python to develop their solutions. Microsoft has also recently gotten into the act.
  
Last year, Hugunin decide to expand on Python by creating IronPython , a new implementation that works within the Microsoft .NET Framework and the cross-platform Mono environment, which Novell sponsors. Version 0.6 was released to the public in July, when Hugunin also announced that he was joining Microsoft to continue working on IronPython's evolution. Last week (some 8 months after Hugunin joined the company), Microsoft released IronPython pre-alpha version 0.7 to the public. Incidentally, Microsoft stresses on its download page that IronPython is a codename, so undoubtedly the company plans to come up with another name for the eventual release version.
  
IronPython is faster than the original Python and lets programmers handle diverse sets of styles, interfaces, and subsystems. You can also use the language to communicate with hardware and to develop the same functionality as programs written in other languages but with far fewer lines of code. With IronPython, you can also produce static runtime executables (.exe files) and DLLs. 
  
The main thrust of IronPython seems to be that it supports Microsoft's Common Language Runtime (CLR) environment , which allows seamless integration of code written in numerous languages, such as Visual Basic (VB), C++, C#, and Java. If you want a flexible cross-platform language, be sure to check out Python, and if you're developing for .NET Framework, you should certainly check out IronPython 0.7 . There's also a message board, documentation, and a bug-tracking facility for IronPython. and a mailing list you can join, although Hugunin implied in a message to the list that it might eventually be closed in favor of the message board