With Microsoft Corp’s formal launch of its Visual Studio 2005 toolset, SQL Server 2005 database, and BizTalk Server 2006 business process software in Toronto this month, the Redmond, Wash.- software vendor finally updates its relational database and development tools.
According to one industry analyst, the upgrades have been long awaited by end users.
SQL Server 2005, for example, represents the first upgrade of the database software in five years, said Warren Shiau, an IT analyst with Toronto-based research firm, The Strategic Counsel. The tools are perhaps long overdue, he said.
Similar Microsoft product launches were held across North America. At the official launch in Toronto, David Hemler, president for Mississauga, Ont.-based Microsoft Canada (Co.) hailed the product launch as one of the biggest in the firm’s history, and harped on the themes on applications integration and increased business productivity.
“The suite of [Microsoft] tools for developers has never been richer…and integration has never been tighter,” Hemler said. The latest versions of the firm’s relational database and its development system form the basis of an integrated XML (Extensible Markup Language) and Web services-oriented applications platform, Hemler said.
The Toronto launch saw Microsoft trot out its beta tester customers. Lawrence Engel, associate vice-president, risk strategy development retail risk management for Toronto-based TD Canada Trust said the firm is using SQL Server 2005 to improve its report generation process. “From a business perspective, the decision to move to SQL 2005…(means) we’re able to improve our access to information. The operational efficiencies gained in those areas allows us to be more proactive,” Engel said.
Huw Morgan, general manager for Toronto.com, said the entertainment portal is using Visual Studio 2005 to help with a recent refresh of its Web site. The tools, Morgan said, means it can build a single platform (built with ASP.NET 2.0, .NET Framework 2.0 and Visual Studio) that cuts down on development costs.
The viability of Microsoft’s software as a deployment option for high-volume enterprise applications has been viewed as an Achilles heel for Microsoft in some circles. But Microsoft officials believe those days are in the past. “Today, we should be able to completely convince you that there is no job that is too big to run entirely on the Windows [and] Microsoft platform,” said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO at the San Francisco launch.
“The issues that have been raised are ones that we’ll look at super closely” said David Treadwell, corporate vice-president for the U.S. .Net developer platform at Microsoft. “There’s no such thing as a large software project that’s perfect,” Treadwell said.
A service pack to amend Visual Studio 2005 will be released at some point, but that is part of the normal product release process, according to Microsoft.
One person has raised concerns about a hanging IDE. Microsoft is evaluating the situation, Treadwell said.
But John Montgomery, director of product management for Microsoft’s developer division, said the hanging IDE resulted from an improper de-installation of a beta version of Visual Studio 2005.
Rather than griping that Visual Studio 2005 was going out prematurely, some developers have instead chastised Microsoft for excessively withholding the new release, according to Montgomery.
For the next release of Visual Studio, codenamed “Orcas,” Microsoft expects to add support for the planned Windows Vista OS and Office 12 office suite, which are due out in 2006, Treadwell said. “We’re hoping to make [Orcas] a small release that follows on Vista and Office 12 as quickly as we can.”
Microsoft Corp. will issue service packs next year for both Visual Studio 2003 and Visual Studio 2005, its package of tools for developers. The first service pack for Visual Studio 2005 will be released in the first half of next year after Microsoft gathers more data from customers.
A more specific release date will be released in a few months.Microsoft has been hit from both sides on Web log sites, lashed by those who want a new version out sooner and by those who want Microsoft to take its time and deliver a bug-free release.
The Strategic Counsel’s Shiau noted the ISV population is perhaps more aligned with Microsoft than rival database vendors. A recent report from the firm (sponsored by Microsoft) claimed that 61.5 per cent of ISVs intend to upgrade or migrate to Visual Studio 2005 and 77 per cent of ISVs believe SQL Server 2005 is the most critical enterprise database platform for supporting future growth.
But Oracle Canada’s David Rumer countered that last claim, noting that the study was paid for by Microsoft, and added that the release of SQL 2005 currently lags behind Oracle’s 10g database in terms of functionality.
The senior director of marketing for the Mississauga, Ont.-based firm said the fact that it’s taken Microsoft five years to release the database upgrade is evidence of that. “If you’re working with SQL 2005, you’ve got a lot of limitations in the choices you can make. You’re locked into Windows, you’re locked into a specific development environment…we’ve gone with open standards allowing customers to work on Windows as well as Linux.”