Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Due in August

CEO Steve Ballmer lays out Microsoft's Software plus Services strategy at the Microsoft partner show.

HOUSTON-Microsoft announced that Microsoft SQL Server 2008 will be available in August with no price increase.

At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2008 here, Bob Kelly, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Server and Tools business, announced that Microsoft would make Microsoft SQL Server 2008 available in August. Kelly also said that on Sept. 8, Microsoft plans to launch its "end-to-end virtualization stack" in an event for press and analysts.

"We're taking virtualization deep into the infrastructure," Kelly said, noting that Microsoft plans to deliver virtualization capabilities to its server, desktop, application and presentation layer technologies. "Less than 10 percent of servers in the market today are acting as hosts for virtualization," he said. And Microsoft plans to have an impact on increasing that percentage. "We're one-third the price of VMware," Kelly said.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer addressed the partner audience as his usual pumped-up self, perhaps even a bit more pumped than usual. Ballmer came out to music that sounded a whole lot like that of a nighttime talk show and he was pointing and prancing around like Jay Leno or somebody. As he was not addressing a crowd of developers, Ballmer could not yell, "Developers, developers, developers." Instead he yelled "partner power" three times before settling in to deliver his keynote.

Ballmer then rattled off a bunch of statistics relating to Microsoft's business over the last year and how partners have played a part in enhancing that business. Ballmer said Microsoft sold 140 million Vista license and gained 100 million SharePoint users, "all fueled by partner power" over the last year.

"This is the single greatest year in growth of Office licenses ever," Ballmer said. And, "4.7 million seats of Lotus Notes have been 'Exchanged,'" he said.

In addition, Microsoft has earned more than $10 billion in server revenue. And "there are over $750 thousand users of our CRM product, despite not being first to market. And we're closing in on with our combination of on-premise[s] and hosted solutions."

Ballmer said Microsoft is No. 3 in the Internet business with designs on becoming No. 1. Microsoft will need a new form of software to help it move up in the Internet business, he said: software integrated with devices-indeed, "special and magical" devices-such as the Windows Mobile devices and 2 million set-top boxes that powered almost $20 million for Microsoft.

"Software plus Services is the name we apply to this phenomenon," Ballmer said. "We're integrating the best of the PC, with the best of the enterprise, with the best of the Internet, with the best of devices."

Ballmer said Microsoft's goal is to "aggressively embrace the world of Software plus Services .... We need to drive the future by building on the present. The future is about having a platform in the cloud."

Moreover, "We're not getting rid of servers, we're extending them," Ballmer said. The core of Microsoft's enterprise strategy has been Windows Server, "and it will continue to be Windows in the cloud," Ballmer said. "You can do cloud-based implementations as well as on-premise[s] with a single log-in, single ID approach."

In addition, Ballmer said the software development models of today will have to change to account for the cloud environment. Future development models "will have to span this whole world-cloud, devices, servers and PC client."

And the server world must be "click to run," as in "you click it and it runs," Ballmer said. "The model of Software plus Services will be a model of click to run."

Meanwhile, Ballmer said that social networking will be "a fundamental system service" in the near future. "Every application in the enterprise and consumer world will have an aspect of social networking. You'll see that in the next version of Office and SharePoint. And it's fundamentally critical that our partners are in it with us."