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VS 2005 release date set; now what?

There is much to expect from Microsoft now that it has announced release dates for VS 2005, SQLServer2005 and Biztalk Server 2006, expert Ed Tittel writes.

In case you missed the many news feeds from last week's Tech-Ed in Orlando (June 6-10), let me be the first to tell you that not only has Microsoft set the release date for Visual Studio 2005, but it has also done likewise for SQL Server 2005 and Biztalk Server 2006. All will be formally launched some time during the week of November 7, 2005, according to Paul Flessner, MS senior VP of Server Applications. Leaving aside the other two items for the time being (more on them later) this raises two very interesting questions.

What now?
Given that the release is now scheduled only five months out, what you see in the VS.NET Beta 2 represents the best blueprint for what could appear in the upcoming commercial release some time between Nov. 7 and 11 later this year. Those who haven't yet downloaded or played with that beta might now find more motivation to do so, assuming they're interested in what new and interesting capabilities Microsoft has planned for the next release, and in what changes or additions are likely to require or encourage changes to existing code and applications.

A quick peek at Microsoft's Visual Studio 2005 Team Modeling Strategy and FAQ is also highly recommended, mostly because it lays out Microsoft's thoughts on the value and relevance of application modeling as a key step in the development process, and because it explains the whys, wherefores, and tools in the modeling process, as well as suggesting ways to involve key players outside traditional development teams to help improve usability and relevance of applications and services. Not coincidentally, the document also provides a very good explanation of Visual Studio packages built around the "team suite" concept.

What's next?
If experience is any guide (particularly what happened with Visual Studio 2003 as it approached release), the following things are likely to happen between now and November:

  • Some new features and functions are likely to drop out of the commercial release as delivered. Just as Visual Studio 2003 lost some automated UI tools and controls en route to commercial release, so also is Visual Studio 2005 more likely to see its feature and function set shrink rather than grow between now and November.
  • Testing and customer interaction will become faster and more furious. As the push mounts to get Visual Studio 2005 out the door, you'll hear about more interaction with the developer community and those items likely to be axed from this release will become major topics of discussion. Look to MVP blogs and third-party community discussions as the best sources of likely intelligence.
  • More resources, best practices, and developer advice items -- such as the .NET Framework 1.1 and 2.0 (beta) compatibility pieces on the MS Web site -- are likely to appear.
  • In general, you'll want to stay tuned to the Visual Studio home page, other key resources (such as GotDotNet, blogs and newsgroups listed on the home page, and user groups like INETA.

    What About SQL Server 2005 and Biztalk Server 2006?

    To a large extent, the same kinds of observations I made about VS.NET also apply to these platforms. Two more quick remarks, however: it's fascinating to me that a platform labeled 2006 can be released the same week as two others labeled 2005, and the growing relationship between SQL Server and Visual Studio is clearly underscored by their release pairing. Perhaps MS is hoping that some of this allure will also rub off on Biztalk Server?

    Ed Tittel is a full-time writer and trainer whose interests include XML and development topics, along with IT Certification and information security topics. E-mail Ed at with comments, questions, or suggested topics or tools to review.

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