Gates: Vista Workflow, LINQ Extensions To Benefit Partners

In an interview with CRN at its Professional Developer's Conference, Microsoft's chief software architect said the forthcoming Windows Workflow Foundation in Vista and LINQ XML query language extensions for C# and Visual Basic, both formally announced at the conference here, afford new opportunities for service partners.

"Today's focus is on developers, but how does that affect partners? It means when they go to build solutions they're starting at a somewhat higher level than in the past and the ability to be more ambitious because [of] rich presentation, communications and workflow," Gates said.

Microsoft announced at PDC the Language Integrated Query (LINQ) Project, which is a set of language extensions to C# and Visual Basic that extends the .NET Framework by integrating query capabilities for objects, databases and XML data.

Gates told CRN that partners using the .NET framework for development can use the extensions to speed time to market of their solutions.

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"They're on a higher foundation so every year what they can do increases. [Jim Allchin's] speech shows a language innovation when you have to write a lot less code when you bind the parameters to the data," Gates said. "[Their] customers don't have Vista today but we're giving them early visibility. Partners are starting with a richer platform."

During Gates' earlier keynote, Microsoft demonstrated the latest version of the Windows build user interface features that drew applause from the crowd, including Flip Windows, Quick Search Box, IE 7's anti-phishing and tabbed browsing technology and Windows Sidebar and Windows Sideshow features.

Also at PDC, Microsoft officially held the "kickoff" of the Vista CTP. Gates told CRN the demo build shown is not "dramatically different" from the first Vista beta released in July but the point is to give developers the latest builds on a more consistent basis.

"The whole point of the CTP is that it's not a one time thing. It's a process, " Gates said. "Every six weeks they&ll be giving out a new Vista build between now and beta 2, which will be broad beta."

The new LINQ querying capability for C#, as well as Microsoft's corporate search technology and WinFS client and server technology under development, are all pieces of a multifaceted effort by Microsoft to let users search and surface needed data more quickly.

Gates also said Microsoft will hand out Web Search APIs for MSN Search at PDC this week, which partners can also use to integrate in better search. He acknowledged that the much anticipated WinFS client and server technology that will unify all the separate data repositories won't be available until the next major upgrade of SQL Server, code named "Katmai," due later this decade.

Microsoft is expected to announce another community technology preview of SQL Server 2005 this week in anticipation of its Nov. 7 launch. En route to the keynote, Kevin Smith, director of development for CommFund, Connecticut, said he was here to hear about near term releases, especially SQL Server 2005.