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Microsoft Trots Out New SQL Server, Visual Studio Offerings

Microsoft on Monday held its highly-touted launch event to deliver SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005, release a community technology preview (CTP) of BizTalk Server 2006 and make available version 2.0 of the .NET Framework.

SQL Server 2005 brings tight integration with Visual Studio 2005 and with BizTalk Server 2006. One key feature of both SQL Server 2005 and BizTalk Server 2006 is inclusion of the Common Language Runtime (CLR) that allows developers to program in any CLR-supported .NET-compliant development language. SQL Server 2005 also adds scalability enhancements, enhanced reporting capabilities and data mining, as well as x64 support.

The shipments highlight a growing trend -- tighter integration among Microsoft’s products, particularly where enterprise computing is concerned.

“We’re really thinking about the broader platform,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told the audience of developers and press in San Francisco. “These are platforms for mission-critical applications.”

That sword may ultimately cut both ways, however.

“There is simply no way to overstate how tightly Microsoft has integrated features among its late 2005-2006 software releases,” JupiterResearch analyst Joe Wilcox says on his blog, commenting on Monday’s launch event. “While some Microsoft executives have said that Microsoft bet the company on Longhorn (now called Windows Vista), the real bet is on ‘Integrated Innovation’."

The approach may alienate as many potential customers as it wins over, Wilcox asserts: “Cross-integration is either going to appeal to customers or it's going to drive them away. Conceptually, customers can reap huge benefits from the feature cross-integration. But, assuming that cross-integrated features really work well, product A will need Products B, C or D for businesses to recognize the real feature benefits.” And that, ultimately, means higher acquisition costs.

Meanwhile, Microsoft also said it will include 16 application and technology adapters in the Enterprise and Standard editions of BizTalk Server 2006 at no additional charge. Previously, adapters have been an extra-cost item. The adapters to be available free include adapters for Oracle Corp., PeopleSoft and Siebel Systems that are already included in the Beta 1 version of the product.

Additional adapters for TIBCO Rendezvous, TIBCO EMS, SAP, JD Edwards OneWorld XE, JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, Amdocs ClarifyCRM, IBM DB2, Host Files, Host Applications, POP3, Windows SharePoint Services and SQL Server will be included in the final release of BizTalk Server 2006, according to a Microsoft statement.

A BizTalk Server 2006 Beta 2 is on track for release later this year, with final shipment set for the first half of 2006. Planned pricing for BizTalk Server 2006 Enterprise Edition will be $29,999, while Standard Edition will cost $8,499. Microsoft also plans to cut the price of its BizTalk Server 2006 Developer Edition from $749 to $449.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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