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Microsoft Schedules Platform Wave Launch, But Products Won't All Be Ready

Bringing an end to months of speculation, Microsoft on Tuesday announced it will jointly launch Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008 in February, but that doesn't mean the products will be ready then.

Windows SQL Server

While Windows Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008 will be set loose by the end of this calendar year, SQL Server 2008 (code-named Katmai) isn't due until mid-2008 -- Microsoft has committed only to releasing it during its 2008 fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2008. That plan remains in effect, the Feb. 27 launch date notwithstanding, according to company executives.

"The way we're doing the launch is that this is an announcement of our next platform wave. It's not actually a commitment about the specific [release to manufacturing] date," said Kim Saunders, senior director of SQL Server marketing. "It's reasonable to expect that Katmai will not be generally available on the launch date."

In a recent interview with CRN, Andy Lees, corporate vice president of the server and tools marketing and solutions group at Microsoft, said Windows Server 2008 remains on track for release to manufacturing by the end of the year, and that Visual Studio 2008 will ship by the end of 2007. While Microsoft is positioning all three products as a linked wave, they will ship on a staggered schedule, Lees said.

"The products will be available when they're finished," Lees said.

All three products are still works in progress. SQL Server 2008 had its first preview release last month, and Visual Studio 2008 recently shed a significant feature set, an entity framework that will now ship separately as a later update.

While the products remain under construction, Microsoft is blazing on ahead with its marketing launch plans. In a keynote speech at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in Denver, COO Kevin Turner announced the plan to launch the trio of products at an event in Los Angeles, followed by hundreds of subsequent launch events to be held internationally.

"It has been a while since we had a new release on Windows Server," said Turner, adding that the release will feature improvements for Web, virtualization, and security. SQL Server 2008 will help Microsoft maintain what has been one of its most profitable businesses, while Visual Studio 2008 will include better language and data features, according to Turner.

At the conference, Microsoft also plans to highlight its Windows Server 2008 logo program, which makes it easier for ISVs to certify their applications for Windows Server 2008.

Updated at 3:20 PM EDT Tuesday

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