Microsoft Tech.Ed looks ahead to lowered costs, complexity

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Microsoft has highlighted a slew of fresh product updates and new releases that the software giant claims will help reduce cost and complexity for developers -- helping enterprises, smaller businesses and consumers alike.

Microsoft has highlighted a slew of fresh product updates and new releases that the software giant claims will help reduce cost and complexity for developers -- helping enterprises, smaller businesses and consumers alike.

Iain McDonald, Windows Server director at Microsoft, gave news media and conference delegates to Tech.Ed 2005 on the Gold Coast a quick peek at features in Windows Vista -- previously known by its Longhorn codename -- that the software vendor believes will attract most interest from technical IT staff.

McDonald continually highlighted through his keynote presentation at Tech.Ed 2005 that the latest version of Windows had various features that would work together to reduce cost and complexity for developers -- and the end-users.

"We're back on the front foot," McDonald said. "We're confident that from day one the system is going to be secure, all the way through to the end of the life cycle."

He said, however, that there was really no probability that Microsoft would get on top of "every security issue that's going to happen" in Microsoft product in the near term.

Microsoft was also working to "get clarity" around the system. Windows Vista would be more "tuned" to developer needs. Also, connectivity and compatibility with other devices and applications would be better, McDonald said.

"We're also looking at a bunch of Unix compatibilities," he said.

The Windows Server operating system would eventually settle into a major release every four years and a release update halfway between major releases. Developers would be able to rely on getting that additional functionality on a regular schedule, McDonald said.

The beta 2 version was slated for an end of year release, with commercial release tipped for the second half of 2006. McDonald did not say if Microsoft believed those deadlines would be met,though.

"I would love it if we delivered it by the end of the year," he said. "We are looking like we're in the end-game for that release."

Meanwhile, Microsoft also prefigured the next version of Visual Studio. Prashant Sridharan, group product manager at Microsoft, said Visual Studio 2005 would perform better and make it easier for teams of developers to communicate and collaborate with each other.

"Application development has become increasingly complex," he said.

Microsoft was harnessing distributed components and web services to simplify and streamline the development process. Key would be a feature dubbed Team Trusted System with drag and drop functionality and different design surfaces, he said.

Sridharan said the team system, for example, monitored and flagged the code as it was produced such that developers could see which parts had been thoroughly tested. The System colour-coded and highlighted suspect pieces of code, for example, in green if it had been well tested, and red if it might contain errors.

McDonald said developers could look forward to the release of SQL Server 2005 and BizTalk Server 2006 by the end of 2005. SQL Server would include a Report Builder that helped anyone with a good understanding of Word or Excel to build sales reports that let businesses track their performance across all sales staff and locations in real-time.

"Those applications really focus on being able to do a bunch of scale and doing demanding applications that outperform and outconnect and really manage your systems better than a lot of competitor offerings," McDonald claimed.

Fleur Doidge travelled to the Gold Coast for Tech.Ed 2005 as a guest of Microsoft.
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