The Real Microsoft Revelations

Apparently, some folks are shocked, shocked, that Microsoft may have introduced a few investors to SCO Group, the company whose challenge of the Linux operating system dovetails with Redmond’s own campaign to slow the growth of open source.

Amid the ado about whether Microsoft played matchmaker (a story that broke when Eric Raymond shared a leaked SCO memo last week), a larger development is missing its due.

We’re talking about Microsoft’s decision to delay for another six months the pre-beta release of its SQL Server database software (code-named Yukon), and the VisualStudio.NET development platform (code-named Whidbey).

As reported by and others, Microsoft said the extra time was needed to assure quality control. We can now expect SQL Server and VisualStudio .NET by 2005 following pre-beta versions later this year.

So SQL Server customers will wait longer for their next update. And so too will managers looking for Longhorn, the next-generation version of Windows; it will be postponed, as well, likely until at least 2007.

Beyond these issues, however, lie implications of how the delay with Whidbey could impact other Microsoft product lines, not to mention its impact on emerging platforms and standards for Web services.

The issues go beyond the fact that developers are annoyed they have to wait for Visual Studio .NET (and ASP.NET 2.0) because of a SQL Server delay. A Yukon delay
shouldn’t mean a Whidbey delay, as many bloggers have noted here,
and here.

The big question is whether the delay will give competing frameworks in the J2EE developer platforms time to catch up with ASP.NET 2.0, which is coming with Whidbey.

That is, if it’s not too late already.

After all, JavaServer Faces is supposed to give Java users a more Microsoft-like programming experience. But many developers have been frustrated by the new levels of complexity that have greeted them with JavaServer Pages.

Take the complaint about generics. In ASP.NET, generics go all the way to the compiler, which means at runtime, .NET enforces the type parameter checking. In Java, this process becomes a coding issue.

Rob Helm, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, asks about the impact on the Microsoft product roadmap. ASP.NET Version 2.0, now delayed until 2005, should have been the basis for leveraging a lot of Microsoft products like Sharepoint Portal Server product, the Content Management Server and even the somewhat dusty Commerce Server.

The next release of ASP.NET framework is being counted on for a huge new library of components that will help change the navigational structure of entire Web sites in a single spot. It’s really the cutting edge of the .NET vs. Java struggle. And Helm says, .NET has been winning. And there’s no question among many analysts and customers that Microsoft’s “JUMP to .NET strategy,” with its “Java User Migration Path to Microsoft”, is making strides.

At least, it has been until these delays were announced.

So while many are pre-occupied with whether or not Microsoft is helping to nudge a few investors to fund SCO Group’s legal campaign, the delays on .NET development have implications that run deep.

Erin Joyce is executive editor of

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