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Yukon, Whidbey Delayed to 2005 -- Microsoft - InternetNews.
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Yukon, Whidbey Delayed to 2005 -- Microsoft

By Alexander Wolfe and Clint Boulton

Microsoft said it will delay the next versions of its SQL Server database software and Visual Studio development .NET environment until the first half of 2005, several months beyond the earlier frame of 2004.

Spokespeople for Microsoft said the delivery delay is to "ensure that [the products] meet the high quality requirements of our customers."

Accordingly, the highly-anticipated database software and development environment, SQL Server 2005 (code-named Yukon), and Visual Studio 2005 (code-named Whidbey), respectively, are still in beta tests.

Microsoft said the first beta of Visual Studio Whidbey is targeted for the first half of 2004 and that a second beta is expected to be available in the second half of 2004, with RTM (release to manufacturing) targeted for the first half of 2005.

The company said it is still on track to deliver Beta 2 for SQL Server (Yukon) and Beta 1 for Visual Studio (Whidbey) in the first half of 2004.

Timing of final release will ultimately depend on customer and partner beta feedback, a spokesman told internetnews.com.

According to Ari Bixhorn, Microsoft's product manager for Visual Studio .NET, the schedule was pushed back to allow company developers more time to add "tweaks" and new features into the code.

"The goal behind the schedule update is to make sure we're taking all our customers' feedback into account," he told internetnews.com. "It's a function of the openness we've had giving out bits [of the code] to customers and getting feedback."

Bixhorn said that with a product as broad as Whidbey, that amounts to a lot of information that has to be folded back into the development process. "A lot of it is tweaks, but we want to make sure we can incorporate as many of these as we can," he said.

Bixhorn said the delays disclosed today apply only to Whidbey and Yukon. He added that neither will impact the schedule for Longhorn, the code-name for Microsoft's next-generation operating system.

Most observers expect Longhorn to hit the streets sometime in 2006, but with each delay, as well as news about extensions of XP after XP Service Pack ships, the question among analysts and observers now is whether Longhorn will actually hit the market by 2007.

Earlier this year, internetnews.com broke the news that Microsoft planned to distribute a beta version of Whidbey at its VSLive conference set for later this month in San Francisco.

That beta is still on tap.

Whidbey has two main components. At the top level is the Visual Studio development environment, which developers will use to create applications for Longhorn. In addition, it includes the .NET Framework, Whidbey's underlying software mode, which serves as the enabling technology for running Longhorn applications and hooking them into the operating system and Web services .

Meanwhile, Microsoft Director of Product Management for SQL Server, Tom Rizzo, said the delivery delays are all about improving quality for the customers.

"This will go out to millions of people," Rizzo told internetnews.com. "It will be like getting that AOL CD in your mailbox," he joked. Seriously, Rizzo said the third Beta of SQL Server would enable customers to run the lifeblood applications of their company, including intensive enterprise applications from SAP and Siebel Systems.

Acknowledging that Microsoft is frequently pummeled in the media by critics blasting the company for its frequent delays in product releases, Rizzo said the company typically plans in multi-year cycles.

"It's better to be open about the dates and announce any delays in advance instead of waiting until a month or so before the release date, which looks bad," Rizzo said.

Thomas Murphy, senior program director of research services at Meta Group, said the delays were no big surprise.

"I don't think there are any particular snags, just complex software and I do see it as some indication that Microsoft is actually putting quality ahead of shipping dates," Murphy told internetnews.com.

Murphy that while Whidbey is a pretty big set of tools and changes to Visual Studio, the real hinge is the tie to Yukon.

The Visual Studio team has already paid the price of going through security review and the shift to new practices, but this is first SQL server release through the new process, Murphy said.

"It does mean that J2SE 1.5 [Java 2 Platform, Standed Edition, a competing development platform with Whidbey] should be shipping before Whidbey, putting Java to market faster with support for generics unless Microsoft releases a final version of the SDK update first."