Reaction mixed to Yukon delay

Reaction to Microsoft Corp.’s decision to delay the release of its next-generation SQL Server database and .Net development tools, code-named Yukon and Whidbey respectively, is mixed.

Microsoft had planned to ship the products by the end of this year. Instead, it will issue a third beta-test release of Yukon, pushing back its official release to mid-2005.

“I’m stunned,” said Keith Gilbert, an enterprise data architect at Tacoma, Wash.-based Labor Ready Inc. Gilbert said the temp-labor services firm had hoped to start using Yukon this year to take advantage of the integrated Visual Studio tools, plus new features for large databases.

But Gilbert said the first beta release of Yukon still needed a lot of work. For instance, he said, several workbench management tool features weren’t activated yet.

And it’s for that reason – to be sure that all runs smoothly – that Microsoft has chosen to wait, said Darren Massel, product manager for SQL Server with Microsoft Canada Co. in Mississauga, Ont.

Massel didn’t have an exact number of current Canadian Yukon beta testers, although he indicated that there are “quite a number.”

That said, Massel said Microsoft doesn’t recommend that customers who aren’t yet testing Yukon wait until the official release date.

“Today customers should all be considering SQL Server 2000,” he said. “We’ve added a lot of things in recent years…we’ve been constantly improving the 2000 platform.”

As for Whidbey, Rob Windsor, president of the Toronto Visual Basic User Group, said “I’m somewhat disappointed, but I can understand. Microsoft’s had a reputation in the past of releasing beta software to the public and I think all the versions of .Net have been really solid and I just think that they just want to make sure that this software is really solid too before it gets out in release mode.”

Windsor said he’s looking forward to getting the tool next summer. “I prefer not to wait but I would also rather have rock solid software when it’s released instead of having to worry about it later.”

Massel said Microsoft does plan to extend support for the older version of SQL Server, “but we don’t have any specifics on this one yet,” he added.

Another factor is customers who subscribe to Software Assurance. Microsoft last September enhanced Software Assurance by adding support and training options, as well as home-use rights for Office. But the latest delay of Yukon will likely mean some SQL Server users won’t get an upgrade before their initial contracts expire.

“I’m certainly disappointed,” said Larry Godec, CIO at First American Title Insurance. Godec said he “absolutely” expected that there would be a SQL Server release during his company’s three-year enterprise agreement with Microsoft, which has Software Assurance built in and is due to expire next year.

He added that he will take the additional delay on the database into account when he decides whether to renew the contract for his server software.

“The misconception out there is that Software Assurance is just about upgrades,” said Sunny Charlebois, a product manager for worldwide licensing and pricing at Microsoft. She said Microsoft has worked hard to help customers understand the value of Software Assurance and commissioned Forrester Research Inc. to develop a tool to calculate the return on investment.

– with files from Computerworld (U.S.)

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