With Visual Studio 2010 well established new versions of lesser known .NET languages are being prepared and polished.
New are: IronRuby, IronPython, Delphi Prism and Small Basic.
After the launch of Visual Studio 2010 you would expect .NET languages in general to be in a state of buoyancy but it is sobering to discover that there is more than C#, VB and VC++ in the mix.
There is life beyond the big two/three as F# goes to prove. It graduated from an experimental language to a fully fledged member of the 2010 team of languages as it earned itself a place as part of the standard Visual Studio installation. What internal Microsoft politics are responsible for this amazing adoption of so unproven a language which takes a comparatively radical approach to coding will have to remain a mystery.
Other .NET languages, even ones sponsored by Microsoft aren't so lucky. But while they might not have made it into Visual Studio 2010 they are still there, developing and worth consideration.
If you are a Ruby fan you might not approve of IronRuby but it is a version that supports most of the core language features and it serves as a bridge between Ruby and the .NET Framework. Using IronRuby you can write good Ruby style code as it targets Ruby 1.8.6, make use of the .NET class library and interoperates with other .NET langauges. The recent announcement of IronRuby 1.0 Release Candidate 2 indicates that the language is close to being ready for release to the real world. If you want to try it out you can download it from: http://ironruby.net/download. There is a version for .NET 2.0 and .NET 4.0 and it also works under Mono making it cross platform.
IronPython on the other hand is at release 2.6 and it is compatible with Python 2.6. As with IronRuby it runs under .NET 2 or .NET 4.0 (as a release candidate) and it can also run within a web browser with the help of Silverlight. You can down load it from http://www.ironpython.net/.
Although there are a lot of other .NET language projects many have the status of "the domain of the enthusiast". However Delphi Prism is a full commercial product. Delphi prism is a development of the object-oriented Pascal created by Borland and is now owned by Embacadero as part of its RAD Studio product.
The latest version of Delphi Prism, which despite its name is based on the Oxygene object Pascal language, is to be released in early May and is compatible with Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4.0. The language has been extended to work with many of the new dynamic facilities in .NET 4.0 but Silverlight 4.0 support is still in the future. It also works with Visual Studio 2008 and Mono to target Cocoa based UIs. If you don't have Visual Studio a copy of the free Visual Studio shell is included.
Small Basic is another little (pun intended) known .NET language that is designed for beginners. It is designed to be a teaching language and it stresses ease of use. Although it hasn't made it into Visual Studio 2010, it has its own mini-IDE, it has reached version 0.8 and is decimal pointing its way to a release version. A new web home has just been found for it within MSDN - Microsoft Beginner Developer Learning Center. It is object oriented but it attempts to keep things simple in the style of the original Basic. It has Turtle graphics and enough power to create games and "real" programs. The latest version also has the ability to run within a browser via the Silverlight plug-in. It is free to download.