A new year, a new Microsoft roadmap: Stepping up the delivery pace

A new year, a new Microsoft roadmap: Stepping up the delivery pace

Summary: With a number of its flagship software products, Microsoft may be making good on promises to roll out new major releases more rapidly.


What's a new year without a new Microsoft roadmap?

The latest comes from Microsoft itself. It's from a Software Assurance renewal document, a download link to which a tipster of mine sent me. It looks like it's a real Microsoft-authored document, from what I can tell, and seems to date back to mid-2012.



On first glance, there's nothing very suprising in the document or timelines included in it. All the usual suspects are there: Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, SQL Server 2012, Office 15 (Office 2013), Visual Studio 11 (Visual Studio 2012), etc. A number of the expected successors to these products, with working names/codenames, are listed, as well -- including Office 16, Visual Studio 2015, SQL Server 2012 R2 and Exchange Server 2016.

Given the document seemingly dates back to mid-2012, which was prior to the release to manufacturing of Windows 8, there's absolutely no information about the successor to Windows 8. Even many of Microsoft's largest customers -- not to mention its own OEM partners -- were not and still are not privvy to information about Windows near- or longer-term futures.

But still, there are a couple of things worth pondering about this roadmap.

First, some of the dates are off. Why is Windows Server 2012, which RTM'd in August 2012, shown as a 2013 product? And why is Windows 8 spanning the mid/late 2012 and 2013 time period, when it launched and was made generally available in October 2012? And SQL Server 2012 SP1? It actually RTM'd in September and was made available in November 2012.

One guess: This roadmap, designated as Microsoft's "plan of main product updates" could be indicating the period when Microsoft officials expects volume-license customers (those at whom a Software Assurance renewal document would be targeted) might be considering/adopting these products. It also could be that this roadmap included the "can't miss"/underpromise and overdeliver ship targets for which the increasingly-secretive Microsoft was becoming known in the past couple of years.

That said, another roadmap included in the document gave me further pause:



The inclusion of Expression Studio 6 on here makes me wonder whether the roadmap authors knew about Microsoft's plans to phase out two of its three Expression design tools, which Microsoft execs acknowledged at the very end of 2012. And Silverlight 6? Yes, there've been rumors that Microsoft might still have one more major Silverlight release up its sleeve. But recent silence on that front has most of us Microsoft watchers believing Silverlight 5 (and a couple of minor updates) is the end of the road for Silverlight.

January 5: Update on this second roadmap:

The second roadmap illustration in this article has been identified as part of a Directions on Microsoft’s Enterprise Roadmap. Directions on Microsoft provides its clients with a quarterly Microsoft Enterprise Roadmap which includes a description of current enterprise product editions and versions, and an estimates of when the next editions will be released based on Direction’s analysis of the current product, market conditions, past product releases, the current state of betas or previews. It seems information and charts from the Directions Roadmap were inadvertently misappropriated in the Microsoft document.

Back to the original post: So, with the caveat that these roadmaps shouldn't be taken literally and that expected ship/release dates are likely closer than they appear, it's still worth noting that:

  • Windows Server 2012 SP1 should arrive before 2014. (Maybe it will sync up with Windows Blue in the summer of 2013, if previous leaks are right.) Update: Or maybe this piece of information is old/outdated, too. Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Mike Kline posted back in October that Microsoft confirmed there is no plan for a SP1 for Windows Server 2012.
  • Office 16/Exchange 16 could be out in 2014 (in spite of these products being referred to as Office 2016/Exchange 2016).
  • SQL Server 2012 R2 could be an early 2014 thing.
  • Visual Studio 2015 -- again, in spite of this supposed/working name -- could be out in 2014.

If these dates, adjusted (unscientifically by me) pan out, Microsoft will be making good on its goal to release new, major versions of its key software products more rapidly. Not dramatically so, mind you. But shaving a number of months or even a year off delivery of full-fledged new releases would be big for Microsoft, its customers and its partners....

Topics: Microsoft, Collaboration, Software Development, Windows, Windows Server


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Conspiracy Theory!

    What if ES6 and Silverlight 6 were actually placeholders for Windows Blue / 8 SP1 but they didn't want to actually put those place holders under Windows?

    I know this probably isn't the case, but I didn't see anything other than Windows 8 under the Windows category, and I can't believe they aren't going to have a major revision of Windows in the next 3 years.
    • Now that Sinofsky is gone

      There really is a possibility of SL revival but a great deal of damage has been done so it's hard to rebuild the trust b/t MSFT and the .Net community again.
      • They should rename Silverlight to...

        SinofskyIsABucketOfPuke and release SinofskyIsABucketOfPuke 6 pronto. That would rebuild some trust.
        • Yes just get Silverlight 6 Announced for LOB desktops

          Then maybe your lost .Net and LOB developers may return to support Microsoft in the Enterise clients on IE 10 Desktop.
          Don't let Consumer mobile browsers distract you.
  • Win 8.next needs to happen soon

    I'll admit Win8 is very stable. I'll admit it is efficient and fun on a touch screen. It's also true that Win8 on non-touch and for corp users is a complete pain in the rear and in fact, it moves backwards in many functions in terms of efficiency and usability. Until they can address some VERY BASIC issues, Win8 will see very slow adoption rates in the corp world. These are simple fixes and could even be included in something as simple as a SP. Now that Steve Sino is gone, maybe more logical heads will prevail.
    • Nah bro, it doesn't.

      I completely disagree. I use Win8 at work in an enterprise environment as an IT admin and find Win 8 superior to Windows 7 in several different ways. I don't understand why people hate the Modern UI Start Screen so much.
      • What do you do using the Modern UI in the enterprise?

        If you're in the enterprise, you live in Outlook. None of your software works in Metro. What do you do with Windows 8 that you weren't already doing in Windows 7?
        Info Dave
      • And what does that...

        ...have to do with Microsoft's new roadmap? Microsoft released new versions of everything last year. Line in the sand, clean slate. This should all be more exciting than Windows 8, at least in the enterprise.
        Info Dave
      • I don't understand why people hate the Modern UI Start Screen so much

        For starters, it is astoundingly ugly. You can follow that up with awkward and unfriendly.
      • Really

        Do you have some super special copy of that METRO managment tools for........


        Forced full screen crap that I NEVER want to see.
        • Really

          No one is "forcing" you to see the metro/start screen more than once every few months- just put the computer in sleep mode, which uses very little energy and is instant on again when you're ready to use it. If you're on the desktop when it's put in sleep mode, it will be on the desktop when you wake it. Set it to not require password on wake and you can ignore the start screen entirely.
          There, that was simple!
    • Couldn't agree more

      Enforcing Modern UI without a touch screen is just a non-starter and a serious issue that needs addressing.
      Alan Smithie
    • I disagree...

      I've been running it on my work laptop for months now, and I find it frustrating going back to Windows 7. Battery life is improved, performance is improved (both generally speaking), and the new keyboard and mouse shortcuts are a big time saver for me.

      I completely skip Metro in my daily usage, and I have no problems with app compatibility, so to say that it's a step back is just plain ignorant based on lack of experience with it.
  • Size of Boxes in Graph 1

    They're all the same size. Therefore, they may not indicate any from ... to, but merely when something first hits.
  • .Net 5 and Silverlight 6 are fantasies

    Microsoft killed these off late 2011, at Build 2011. The age of Microsoft delivering superior .Net/Silverlight technology is over. Those previously faithfull developers got the message that Microsoft had us screwed over, and we are not going to believe much more of any Microsoft nonsense any more and we are moving onto other platform and ecosystems.
    • .net

      More than once of late I have heard the claim that Microsoft has killed-off .Net.

      Could you please enlighten us as to why you think this to be the case, especially when Windows8, Visual Studio, Windows Phone 8 and MANY Microsoft products she with and/or depend on .Net at their very core?
      • Windows RT core deempasied .Net

        Microsoft reworked the kernel to go native. Sinoskfy hated the .Net layer so has virtually killed it off.
        See the Windows 8 architecture diagram from Build sept 2012.
        MS wants us to go back to old school native C++, for high game performance, rubbish Webby HTML/Javascrap for lightweight Apps, and the decent C#/XAML running on WinRT for general Windows 8 Apps.

        .Net stack has been left to die on the legacy deck top sidelines.
        • Huh?

          Ain't C#/XAML .Net to start with? If you write those responsive RT apps you'd have to use C# or the managed C++ in order to take advantage of the latest .Net Async support. .Net is live and well.
          • C# and XAML are NOT .NET

            Do not confuse language with the Runtime stack.
            Granted we can reuse C# and XAML skills, nut they are not the same.
            More specifically the transisiton pof C#/ XAML stacks: WPF(.NET) ~> Silverlight Web (.NET) ~> WP7 Silverlight /= Windows 8 or WP8 C#/XAML. All very similar but I cannot run Silverlight Web LOB Apps in Metro Browsers mor .NET. I have to run back to the 'full' Windows 8 Desktop mode for all that great .NET and Silverlight (Web) stuff.

            Similarly for XNA, that other great .NET technology that Microsot dropped. Thanfully those great MonoGame Team guys have picked that one up and are now running with it across Windows, Android, PS3 and iOS platforms.

            So we can now all move across to Android development, as Microsoft no longer interested in .NET.
          • XAML in the browser (Even metro IE.10) without plugin

            Anyone who invested in learning XAML, whether Silverlight or WPF, would understand the power behind the paradigm. It was a sad day when Microsoft announced the death of Silverlight for a change in direction.

            Yesterday I found this project (http://fayde.wsick.com/home.aspx) it is implementing XAML using Javascript rendering it on the HTML5 canvas control. I know, at first I was, WTF... but then I downloaded the project (it is open source) and started experimenting - it is not complete and require more community involvement - but man! my mind was blown. I tested a simple XAML login and tile page I created using copy/paste XAML from my Silverlight app with a new Typescript code behind (similar to C#), using browserstack... WOW!!!

            To have XAML running in almost 100% of the environments, including IPhone, Android, Mac was just mind blowing.

            So go there and see for yourself... http://fayde.wsick.com/home.aspx