Microsoft highlights databases

As the company looks ahead to the planned release of Yukon, the next major version of the SQL Server database due in late 2003, Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday at its TechEd conference in New Orleans announced beta offerings of two precursor products that focus on data management for handheld devices and information alerts.

A beta release of SQL Server 2000 Notification Services is to be made available on Wednesday to users who “nominate” themselves, a process through which user sites submit a request and then are qualified by Microsoft, according to Sheryl Tullis, SQL Server product manager in Redmond, Wash. Notification Services is a tool that enables development of notifications such as .Net-based alerts deliverable through mediums such as e-mail, instant messaging, or devices.

Also being announced at TechEd is a beta release of SQL Server CE, Version 2.0, a database for Windows CE handheld devices that will be made available at the end of the month also by the nomination process. Version 2.0 integrates with Microsoft’s .Net Web services framework and also features other enhancements such as easier database replication and installation and improved performance, according to Tullis.

“These two betas really underscore the SQL Server vision,” and the features will be rolled into the planned 2003 release of Yukon, Tullis said. With the beta products Microsoft is looking to make it easier to build applications for SQL Server 2000 and extend data management and analysis, she said.

Yukon will feature three main themes: programmability, increased manageability and scalability, and the ability to perform business intelligence queries within the database, Tullis said.

In the meantime, SQL Server Notification Services and SQL Server CE 2.0 are set to be generally available this summer. SQL Server CE 2.0 will take advantage of Microsoft’s .Net Compact Framework, enabling developers to build applications for devices using Smart Device Extensions, according to Tullis.

“Developers don’t have to learn new skills,” to extend applications to mobile devices, she said.

An analyst said support of .Net Compact Framework was key, even if Microsoft has not released the framework yet.

“The key thing is the support for the Compact Framework and the Smart Device Extensions,” since these will be critical to application development for devices, said Rob Helm, editor in chief of Directions on Microsoft, an analyst firm that publishes a monthly newsletter on Microsoft issues called “Directions on Microsoft Update,” in Kirkland, Wash.

“The Smart Device extensions really lower the bar for programming things like the Pocket PC. It’s always been kind of a black art and those [extensions] in particular make it easier,” Helm said.