Microsoft Changes Timetable

 
 
By Brian Fonseca  |  Posted 2004-03-15
 
 
 

Microsoft Corp. users, developers and partners are tired of product delays but said they are willing to wait for the companys newest database and development tools platforms—if it means better software as a result.

Officials for the Redmond, Wash., vendor said the next upgrades of SQL Server, code-named Yukon, and of Visual Studio, code-named Whidbey, are being pushed back from a late- 2003 target release to the first half of next year. The issue is simply an "update to the schedule," said Ari Bixhorn, Visual Studio lead product manager, in an interview with eWEEK. Bixhorn said the update is due to feedback from users and developers who got early-access bits of code since the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference last fall. "Weve had an extremely successful feedback loop; thats whats driving the schedule," he said. "Were updating the schedule for SQL Server Yukon and Visual Studio Whidbey to ensure the best product for our customers."

Sources said an additional schedule update or Yukon delay may be needed, and, if so, Whidbey could be released separately ahead of Yukon, although Microsoft has vowed to release the two together. Bixhorn said the two products have to be released together because of codependencies—particularly that Yukon will implement Common Language Runtime, a key part of Visual Studio.

Tom Rizzo, Microsofts director of SQL Server product management, said the decision to push back Yukon and Whidbey is related to the addition of a third beta program in the second half of this year. "This new [third] beta and pushed-back release [of SQL Server 2005] is all for bake time," Rizzo said.

However, sources said the update is indeed a delay due primarily to issues related with Yukon. They said a large part of Microsofts SQL team is writing parts of WinFS for "Longhorn," the next version of Windows, and the complexities of making Yukon the file storage system of Longhorn is proving harder than anticipated.

Andrew Brust, president of Progressive Systems Consulting Inc., a New York developer and Microsoft partner, said he would not speculate on specific problems. "If people think back to the development and release of SQL Server 7, they will recall it was massively delayed, and it was arguably the most significant and successful SQL Server release since [its] introduction," Brust said. "I would argue the success was due to the delays and the volume, depth and breadth of necessary testing that the delays allowed. Yukon is even more significant."

Stephen Forte, chief technology officer of Corzen Inc., in New York, said: "I would rather wait a few extra months and have a quality, stable software rather than something rushed to market and full of bugs. Yukon is so important with all of the new changes that I expected it to slip." Other SQL Server users, such as Greg Robidoux, president of the New Hampshire SQL Server Users Group, in Merrimack, said his group was "disappointed" by the delay. "I dont think [Microsoft is] ready; I think theyre running into issues they want to correct," Robidoux said. "Id rather see a tight product come out than another product that has issues from Microsoft."

While some bemoan the possible impact of the schedule update on other products on the Microsoft road map, Bixhorn said no other products will be affected. However, he said the update to Whidbeys release schedule will also mean Microsoft will update the release schedule for the follow-on to Whidbey, code-named Orcas. According to earlier Microsoft estimates, Orcas was to follow Whidbey by up to two years.

Mike Sax, president of Sax Software Corp., in Eugene, Ore., and the Sax.net software components site, said: "The ship target is still the first half of 2005. ... I never really expected them to ship in 2004. For tools and component vendors, I dont expect a major ripple."

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