BizTalk 2009 Arrives, Office 2007 SP2 Up Next

With all the excitement surrounding the pending release of Windows 7, it’s easy to forget that Microsoft makes many products, most of which need to be updated from time to time. And while they may not grab the limelight, millions of users depend on these applications in the enterprise.

For instance, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) confirmed that it will ship Office 2007 Service Pack 2 (SP2), as planned, today. Additionally, Microsoft released BizTalk Server 2009 yesterday.

The software titan announced April 14 on its Microsoft Update blog that Office 2007 SP2 is “due to ship on April 28th.” A Microsoft spokesperson reiterated that intention Monday.

“Service Pack 2 for the 2007 Microsoft Office system will be available for customers starting April 28,” a company spokesperson told in an e-mail.

Also on Monday, Microsoft announced it is shipping BizTalk Server 2009, the latest version of the company’s business process management software.

The BizTalk update, which was slated to ship in the first half of the year, made it comfortably.

According to a company statement, BizTalk Server 2009 features interoperability with additional back-end systems, including various IBM (NYSE: IBM) mainframe and other enterprise products, as well as Oracle’s (NASDAQ: ORCL) E-Business Suite.

It also supports the latest Microsoft application platforms, including Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 SP1, SQL Server 2008, and SP1 of .NET Framework 3.5.

Lowering infrastructure costs

Additionally, Microsoft says customers who license the Enterprise Edition of BizTalk Server 2009 can lower infrastructure costs by taking advantage of Windows Server 2008’s Hyper-V virtualization capabilities to run unlimited virtualized instances of BizTalk Server. The product went into beta test in early December.

Meanwhile, like most service packs, SP2 for Office 2007 rolls up a slew of tweaks and minor bug fixes made to Microsoft’s productivity applications suite since SP1 was released.

However, it also provides native support for the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) OpenDocument Format (ODF) standard file formats.

That’s a change that may ultimately cheer some members of the open source community.

Microsoft had a dragged out fight with critics in 2007 and 2008 over its own file formats called Office Open XML (OOXML). It submitted OOXML, through European standards body Ecma, to be considered as a global document exchange standard. ISO had already adopted ODF for that purpose, however.

Microsoft’s submission of OOXML and the politics surrounding it — it finally was approved by ISO last year — have left many open sores with ODF supporters. In fact, the European Commission may yet take action against Microsoft over its lobbying actions during the standards setting process.

While ultimately Microsoft succeeded, there was a second downside to OOXML’s adoption. Microsoft and Ecma had to make certain changes to OOXML in order to get it approved as an ISO standard. But the changes left it unable to work with Office 2007. Microsoft has said it will provide OOXML support in Office 2010 due out next year.

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