Microsoft Road Map Snafu

Last week, company executives demonstrated the upcoming Windows XP Service Pack 2, touting its security enhancements, at CMP Media's XChange Solution Provider conference in Nashville, Tenn.

While the Redmond, Wash.-based company grapples with the continuing security onslaught, and changes its Windows road map to accommodate the crisis, the delays spread last week to SQL Server and Visual Studio releases, pushing them out to 2005. Both products, code-named Yukon and Whidbey, had been promised for this year.


EBuilt's Lindsay says any delays by a major player could be bad news for users.

Tom Rizzo, director of product management for SQL Server, said Microsoft opted to add a third beta not solely due to security issues. "This decision was made to get more quality and customer feedback. Security is not 'the' one thing, but it's an important thing," he said.

Solution providers tried to take the news in stride, but registered disappointment. "Any delays to an anticipated IT infrastructure upgrade by a major player sets off a chain reaction," said Joe Lindsay, CTO of eBuilt, Costa Mesa, Calif. While it gives those not ready to upgrade more time, "for folks badly needing the new functionality, it could be very bad news," he said.

Sponsored post

Meanwhile, a revised Windows road map, which includes an enhanced client and enhanced server before Longhorn is released, sparked confusion industrywide but could drive an unexpected upgrade cycle and more volume-licensing deals over the next two years, observers said.

Microsoft said it is working on a project called Windows XP Reloaded and another effort to update Windows Server 2003 after the security-focused service packs for XP and Windows Server 2003 are released this year and well before the major Longhorn upgrades are due in 2006 or 2007.

Executives of the Windows client and server operations dismissed the notion that the planned updates are full interim upgrades.

Some observers claimed these releases are intended to drive more Upgrade Advantage volume-license customers to the Software Assurance plan when their contracts expire midyear, and to slow Linux adoption.

Some partners applauded the idea of pre-Longhorn refreshes. "If there is significant value-add in Reloaded, then I say bring it on," said Michael Cocanower, president of ITSynergy, a Phoenix solution provider.

Paula Rooney, Barbara Darrow and Elizabeth Montalbano contributed to this story.

SHIFTING GEARSMicrosoft's road map includes more secure interim operating system releases and delays for its database and toolset
Windows XP SP2
Security release
Windows Server 2003 SP1
Security release
2nd-half 2004
Windows XP Reloaded
XP SP2 Plus New features
Windows Server 200X
SP1 Plus features
Virtual Server 2004
Microsoft's first virtual server
2nd-half 2004
SQL Server 2005
Nex-gen database
Slipped to 2005
Visual Studio 2005
Nex-gen toolset
Slipped to 2005