Vista, Office 12 Key At PDC

In addition, the Redmond, Wash., software giant will debut a new software development kit for Windows Vista client, planned new workflow services for Vista and a context-sensitive “ribbon interface” for Office 12, sources said.

The availability of the developer&s release and SDK of Vista, as well as Visual Studio 2005 RC1, represents significant milestones for developers and solution providers as Microsoft prepares to release its wave of Longhorn products in 2006.

At PDC, much of the focus will be on the “Longhorn/Vista and Office 12 user experience,” said one Microsoft insider.

The Windows Vista Platform SDK, for example, will offer APIs that connect to Windows workflow services and Auxiliary Display devices.

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Sources close to Microsoft said the company intends to release the first limited beta of Office 12 in November and a broad beta in March. Microsoft released the first beta of Windows Vista in July and early bits of the WinFS file system last month.

While Microsoft plans to officially launch both Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 on Nov. 7, Windows Vista and Office 12 are not expected for release until late 2006.

The company has added a variety of new development hooks into its core Windows and Office platforms that will make development easier for business analysts, workgroups and solution providers.

Additionally, the Windows Communications Foundation Web services toolset and Windows Presentation Services graphics toolset—part of the WinFX programming model in Longhorn—will enable partners to build and integrate more user-centric Web services and graphically intensive applications into the client, partners said.

Because they focus on end-user features, the new tools make the Windows and Office platforms more programmable by solution providers.

“This will give us customization and configuration capabilities we haven&t had before,” said Michael Kogon, president of Definition 6, a Microsoft Gold Certificate Partner in Atlanta. “Because the base software is being developed for user outcomes and is user-activity driven, that&s where customization is key. We can start looking [now] at new software design.”