RealTime IT News

S. Somasegar, VP, Microsoft Developer Division

S. SomasegarMicrosoft came to San Francisco this week for VS Live, a conference for developers, to plug Visual Studio 2005, a set of software development tools.

Internetnews.com sat down with S. Somasegar, corporate vice president of the developer division, following his keynote at the conference, to discuss the company's determination to provide a complete software stack.

Q: Can you lay out the elements of Microsoft's application stack offerings?

We have a complete end-to-end stack, starting from the operating system for both client and server, to a set of application servers, including SQL, BizTalk and Exchange Servers, to applications like Office, CRM, Dynamics, to lifecycle services.

As an ISV, you can decide to plug in at any level. For example, you can customize the server at the highest level, or write an application that runs on an application server, or even write your own database application.

Q: What about BizTalk Server?

BizTalk is an orchestration engine; it orchestrates Web services. We've taken Visual Studio and the development environment and experience, and integrated it into BizTalk so that, if you're a BizTalk developer, you have the same look and feel and functionality of the Visual Stuido IDE.

We added Business Alert Monitoring, so you can capture more information, and it lets you take more action on those alerts.

Q: And how does Team System fit in?

Initially, we focused on the software developer. We understand that the software developer is very important and needs to be highly productive.

Then we started to realize the developer is part of the software development team, but there's also a project manager, an architect, a designer and a tester. All these people need to work together in a collaborative way.

The components of Team System are Visual Studio Team Editions for developers, testers and architects, and Team Foundation Server ties them together.

Everything else, we delivered along with Visual Studio 2005. We'd always planned it this way. We were doing Team Foundation Server for the first time, and it always takes a little longer to bake the server, to make sure it's high quality and up to the demands.

We always said we'll ship Visual Studio 2005 and then take our time to ship the server. The good news is we seem to be on track.

Q: You've been gathering feedback from the community technology preview (CTP) process for a while now. What is some of the most useful feedback you've gotten for Team System from the CTPs?

We get a lot of feedback. You need to be passionate to take out early bits and give us feedback, and it's heartwarming for us.

First, regarding setup or configuration, in Team Foundation Server, there are a number of technology pieces that need to come together. There are some dependencies so that, if people aren't thoughtful in the order in which they lay down the bits, they may not have a successful installation.

We assumed that people would know how to set up all these other things, so we focused on our piece. The feedback we got was, "Hey you guys need to think about the end-to-end experience." So we focused some effort in setting up, in providing clear guidance.

Another is that, originally, our design goal was to have the server be able to handle 500 users at any given time. Microsoft is unique in having thousands of developers, we thought, but out in the real world, who has so many?

But we heard from customers that they have projects with more than 500 users, so we needed to scale up. We now can support 3,000 users on any server at any time.

Q: What's the progress on your Atlas tool? You've been using AJAX for some time, and now it's hot hot hot.

On the one hand, you have reach; on the other hand, you have rich. How do you get the best of both worlds? Our notion of the smart client takes advantage of both rich and reach in the client, but it's focused on a richer client experience.

On the other extreme, you have the Web client. How can I make that a little bit richer? Ajax is a lightweight set of tools and a methodology to build Web clients. Look at Outlook on Web Access, it's a classic AJAX client we came up with a decade ago.

Atlas is our toolset and framework for people to build AJAX-style, but richer, applications. Atlas will be part of Orcas [the next version of Visual Studio]. But we ask each of our teams, when they make progress, don't wait for the rest of the product. Get feedback. So, we've delivered a bit of Atlas, and we hope to have a Go-Live version of Atlas. But it will be part of Orcas.