Microsoft is working on scaled-down versions of Visual Studio 2005 languages and SQL Server 2005 offerings for enthusiasts, hobbyists and students.
The company formally announced plans for SQL Server Express Edition, Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition, Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition, Visual C# 2005 Express Edition and Visual J# Express Edition at the recent Tech Ed Europe in Amsterdam, executives said.
>> Express offerings geared for students, enthusiasts and hobbyists.
>> Timing for delivery has not yet been set.
>> Express offerings were announced last month during Tech Ed Europe in Amsterdam.
"We needed to expand the product lines to target the hobbyist, enthusiast and student," said John Montgomery, director of marketing for developer tools. He said the population of nonprofessional developers at 18 million dwarfs that of their 6 million professional counterparts.
Timing for delivery is not set. Microsoft had hoped to get beta 1 of the full Visual Studio 2005 tool suite and beta 2 of SQL Server 2005 out by the end of June to meet its latest deadline. Beta one for Whidbey/Visual Studio 2005 became available to MSDN subscribers earlier this month.
SQL Server Express Edition, a replacement SKU for Microsoft Data Engine (MSDE) or Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine, will be a free download and bundled with the full toolset and database. The target market for Express or MSDE is the embedded market. The various language Express editions will cost in the "tens of dollars," Montgomery said.
The pint-size database will include support for the Common Language Runtime (CLR) and will support XML Web services, said Tom Rizzo, director of SQL server product development. It strips out other functionality such as the planned business intelligence perks that will be part and parcel of the full SQL Server 2005, aka Yukon, he said.
The company also simplified packaging. The smaller database is limited to single-processor machines with up to 1 Gbyte of memory. Database size is about 4 Gbytes.
The delineation between MSDE and the current SQL Server is less straightforward, Rizzo acknowledged. For the current version, a workload governor regulated how many SQL statements can be sent to the database. "If you sent five or more SQL statements, we started slowing them down. It was hard to really understand what the limit is," Rizzo said.
Microsoft appears to be on a push in the education market. Earlier this year, CRN reported that Microsoft is starting a less-expensive version of MSDN for high school students.
Some observers say Microsoft must do more to up the "cool" quotient of Windows to students, many of whom are gravitating toward Linux and open-source software alternatives.
The Express idea is a great move, said Richard Warren, president of Shenandoah Technologies, a Winchester, Va., consultancy.
"Budding developers at the start of their careers [represent] an important audience. This provides a workable alternative to Linux in the schoolhouse."