While Microsoft Corp. has been mum about its upcoming Microsoft Business Framework for the last year, the team has been hard at work on a 2007 release.
Darren Laybourn, general manager, Microsoft Business Framework, said the delivery of MBF is taking longer than anticipated because of dependencies the framework has on other technologies in development.
MBF is a set of developer tools and software classes developed primarily by Great Plains Software, which Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., acquired in 2001. Microsoft is working to build a number of its products—including the Microsoft Business Portal, the next version of its Visual Studio .Net tool suite and its "Project Green" suite of shared components—all on top of the MBF layer.
So far Microsoft has released one build of MBF and is slated to deliver another to its MBF Technology Adoption Program, Laybourn said.
"We have about 40 companies who are playing around with our bits and giving us feedback," Laybourn said. "Theres nobody planning on building anything real right now because when we are going to ship is more towards the end of 2007."
Part of the reason for the delay in completing MBF is the decision to move the WinFS subsystem out of "Longhorn," Laybourn said.
Laybourn said Microsoft shipped an alpha version of the code and is moving to a three-month cycle of milestone releases, similar to the Community Technology Previews Microsoft has delivered for other products.
"Were looking at seeing our tooling become general-purpose, widely available, not only to ISVs but also to IT shops," Laybourn said. "From a Visual Studio point of view, were filling a hole. Many of the applications built by ISVs use the Microsoft technology, but they also build a platform layer in addition to that. MBF is trying to fill that need."
Andrew Brust, chief of new technology at Citigate Hudson Inc., in New York, said he sees MBF as Microsofts effort to build on top of the .Net Framework with components for developers and analysts to design and build applications.
"This makes it flexible, and it makes the flexibility open to both advanced development shops and more business-oriented developers via third-party products built on top of MBF," Brust said.
"Well be part of Orcas," Laybourn said, noting that the shipping vehicle for MBF will be the "Orcas" release of Visual Studio, which will follow Visual Studio 2005. Laybourn said MBF will emerge in Visual Studio, "definitely in [Visual Studio] Team System and it might actually be in [Visual Studio Professional] as well." Shipping as part of Visual Studio will make MBF widely available to both ISVs and IT shops, he said.
Laybourn said the closest competitor might be SAP AG. "Id say theyre going in the same general direction," he said.
Meanwhile, Laybourn said he hopes to build a community of developers such as Microsofts community of VBX (Visual Basic Extension) and OCX (OLE Custom Controls) developers of the past.
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