Last week, Microsoft said its Team Foundation Server would ship in the first quarter of next year. The package had been anticipated to coincide with the release of Visual Studio 2005. Team Foundation Server is a central element of Visual Studio Team System, a part of the overall Visual Studio 2005 offering that represents a much anticipated foray by Microsoft into team-oriented, server-based software centered around the full application development life cycle, which includes modeling, testing and project management.
At the same time that Microsoft disclosed the Q1/'06 ship date for Team Foundation Server, the company said next month it would issue a Visual Studio 2005 RC [Release Candidate] to PDC attendees, as well as to MSDN subscribers and others.
The word of the delay for Team Foundation Server came via the blog of Soma Somasegar, corporate vice president for Microsoft's Developer Division. Somasegar emphasized that Beta 3 of Team Foundation Server will be available at the planned November launch of Team Studio 2004. The software will be made available along with a Microsoft 'Go-Live' license, which enables developers to deploy their Visual Studio Team System collaboration tools ahead of the actual release. Somasegar also pledged that all data within Team Foundation Server Beta 3 would migrate "seamlessly and in-place" to the final version of Team Foundation Server.
While Microsoft has been aggressive and optimistic as it has pushed Team Foundation Server to completion, it does face challenges. Team Foundation Server is a collaboration server that supports source-code control and issue tracking, and, as such, could imperil users' software projects if it crashed and failed to back up. In fact, this is the Microsoft Developer Division's first server product. Visual Studio Team System includes several new tools for modeling applications, unit testing and collaborative communication.
The announcement of Visual Studio 2005 Team System at TechEd 2004 was accompanied by supporting announcements from third-parties that said they would use Microsoft's APIs to further extent Team System capabilities. These software players, who may have hoped for a release of Team Foundation Server at this year's TechEd, must now consider holding back on complimentary product launches.
How significant is the apparent delay? Not too worrisome, says an industry observer – that is, he continues, if there is no further delay.
"As long as it holds to [the newly stated schedule], I don't think it is terribly significant," said Greg DeMichillie, tools expert for analyst firm Directions on Microsoft, Kirkland, Wash.
But, DeMichillie cautioned: "In the short term, any time you get a product slip, it seems pretty significant, because you have customers who had deployment plans, and third parties with product plans. But [Team Foundation Server] has been lagging. So it is not a surprise."
"At some point it has to get on the schedule with the rest of Visual Studio," said DeMichillie, especially with the Windows Vista OS coming into view. It could impact Vista tooling efforts if parts of the 2005 product are straggling into 2006, he indicated.
Read Soma's blog on Visual Studio launch plans - MSDN