Microsoft has set another target date for the launch of its long-awaited database, tool set and integration server.
SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio 2005 and BizTalk Server 2006 will officially launch the week of Nov. 7, Microsoft said Tuesday at its TechEd 2005 conference in Orlando, Fla. The Redmond, Wash.-based software vendor also unveiled the first community technical previews of BizTalk 2006 and of SQL Server 2005.
BizTalk 2006, the integration product, is being updated to take advantage of new SQL Server and Visual Studio perks, but is otherwise a "fit and finish" release and will not ship till the first quarter of 2006, said Steven Martin, group product manager of Microsoft's Business Process and Integration Division.
Microsoft has said for some time that the toolset and database would ship this year and the talk of a specific date would appear to show it's confident it can do so. The products were originally expected in 2004. The delays stem from bulletproofing for security and other concerns. "No one wants to ship SQL Server 2005 more than me," said Paul Flessner, senior vice president of Server Applications at Microsoft. "It was a lot of work to make sure customers and developers have a seamless developer experience."
SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 share support for Microsoft's Common Language Runtime to preserve developers' skill sets in the popular programming languages.
There has been increasing buzz among Microsoft partners and customers that the release of Visual Studio, in particular, was slipping again and wouldn't make it out until next year. Microsoft spokespeople repeatedly denied that contention at TechEd. "There are bi-directional dependencies. They rely on the CLR, we rely on the database for [Visual Studio 2005] Team System," said Prashant Shridharan, group product manager of Microsoft's developer division.
Some TechEd attendees were getting restless for products that have been promised for years. Still, others said that for critical products, it's more important to get them right than to just get them out the door.
In a gesture of conciliation, Microsoft said it would give attendees a free copy of SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition, which got a round of applause.
Robert Fort, Director of Information Technology for Virgin Megastore, of Los Angeles, said it's been a long wait for SQL Server 2005 but he'd rather Microsoft ship a solid product than an untested one. "It's fantastic," said Fort of the database.
Flessner reassured customers that with SQL Server 2005, for instance, people can ignore the standard "wait for Service Pack 1" rule. "We'll be taking feedback over the summer for final quality assurance. But no product goes live to customers until Microsoft is all live [on it]," he said. "That wisdom about waiting for SP1? Don't. SP 1 is baked into this product."
Of course, it's still a bit unclear what will actually happen on Nov. 7. Microsoft and other tech powers often have launch events well before the product is made available.
Microsoft also said it will put Reporting Services in all of the SQL Server 2005 SKUs and Report Builder in all SKUs except the low-end Express version of the product. Business intelligence is a huge thrust for this edition of the database, and for Microsoft in general.
And finally, the company demonstrated nascent RFID technology that it promised to make broadly available next year.
The company was mum on deatils but Martin said that the technology would probably surface in two ways: Embedded in third party applications and as some sort of standalone offering. He would not comment on pricing or packaging beyond that. Microsoft provided attendees with RFID-enabled badges that read their presence as they moved around the cavernous Orange County Convention Center.
The information gathered was anonymous and voluntary, the company said. In a demo, they showed a graphical system tracking attendees flowing from venue to venue. Such an application could help the company allocate staff and resources according to need.
This report was updated late Tuesday morning with more information on database SKUs, BizTalk 2006, RFID plans and attendee reaction.