Microsoft To Release Whidbey CTP, Avalon And Indigo For Windows XP Soon

Even as sources say Beta 2 won't likely be in developers' hands until April, Microsoft insisted beta 2 code will ship in the first quarter. In the interim, another CTP with team system features will be released to placate developers restless for Visual Studio 2005. Microsoft product manager John Montgomery acknowledged that only one of the team system components made it into Visual Studio 2005 Beta 1 last year.

Additionally, Microsoft will tout at VSLive the planned release of its Avalon presentation layer for Smart Client development and Indigo software stack for Web services development on Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 "very soon," Montgomery said last week. Microsoft's Avalon and Indigo are key developer technologies for its next-generation Longhorn Windows platform. The software giant announced plans last year to make them available for the current generation of Windows when it announced that the third key developer technology planned for Longhorn, WinFS, would be delayed. A CTP of Avalon was released in November, Microsoft said. The second one is coming out in March 2005. In addition to its focus on Visual Studio 2005 for release this year, Microsoft will tout other developer technologies at the show such as Visual Tools for Office and Avalon that will enable development of Smart Clients using Visual Studio's Windows and Web forms and the ability to connect Smart Clients to other systems using Microsoft's Indigo Web services technology.

Microsoft will also push developers to write more secure code using its Information Bridge Framework(IBF) for Office and Visual Studio 2005, both of which enable programmers to write managed code. While it attempts to entertain the masses of .Net developers this week with those updates, Microsoft's ecosystem of ISV partners--in hold mode until Whidbey ships--will debut some planned products for Microsoft's existing Visual Studio 2003 platform and future Visual Studio 2005 release.

Versant, for example, will debut a object relational mapping tool for Visual Studio that simplifies data management. Open Access.Net, which will ship at the end of February, uses hyperdrive technology and multilevel caching to speed up data access dramatically, the San Francisco company claims. The platform, which is now available for Java, will give .Net developers more powerful data access tools than Microsoft's ADO.Net so they can focus on complex applications, rather than data access issues, the company said. Open Access.Net will integrate with Microsoft's ASP.Net Web services development code and Visual Studio and SQL Server, the company said. The software will ship this month and be updated for Whidbey and SQL Server 2005 when those products ship later this year.

Sponsored post

Eiffel Software is another Microsoft ISV that will announce at the show its Envision plug-in for Visual Studio 2005, an upgrade that will allow developers to snap the company's namesake object-oriented language platform into Visual Studio 2005 when it ships. Raphael Simon, lead software engineer for Eiffel, said the $1,499 plug-in--which will give developers sophisticated features such as multiple inheritance and generics--will be available roughly three months after Visual Studio 2005 ships.

The company is also preparing an update of its Eiffel Studio development platform, version 5.6, for Visual Studio 2005. Version 5.5 shipped last September. Simon said the Eiffel language is based on a simplified version of United Modeling Language (UML) called the Business Object Model that is multiplatform and used by developers of complex systems for the financial services and defense industries who want to focus on the complexity of the application, not the complexity of a programming tool. Meanwhile, as Microsoft later this week focuses on making Windows available "Anywhere," via its Windows XP Tablet PC and Windows Mobile operating systems, one third-party ISV will step in to ease development for the Tablet PC.

Agilix, Orem, Utah, has collaborated with Microsoft on a set of .Net controls designed to make development of ink- and mobile-enabled applications for the Windows XP Tablet PC easier and faster. To that end, the ISV will announce at VSLive on Monday two versions of a new product called Infinotes that will allow developers to drag .Net controls onto a Windows form or Web form to build ink- and note-taking enabled application in a short amount of time. The standard version will be available at no charge, and the professional version will be offered for $995 per developer. Mark Caulkins, vice president of platform marketing for Agilix, said Microsoft will feature the .Net controls during its keynote on Smart Clients on Monday. He noted that Microsoft's own software development kit (SDK) for Windows Tablet PC 2003 applications has proved to be difficult for most developers to use.

"It's like trying to scale Mount Everest--once you get to the top, it's great, but it's hard," Caulkins said, noting that Infinotes has been in beta-testing for four months.