Microsoft has said the forthcoming release of its SQL Server database and Visual Studio.NET development tool will be delayed -- again.
Scheduled as a dual release at the end of 2004, then earlier this year delayed to the "first half" of 2005, the company is now saying Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 -- previously code named Whidbey and Yukon respectively -- will be released in the "middle of next year".
The delay of SQL Server and Visual Studio.Net -- vital products to its corporate and developer customers -- is the latest in a number of products that have no set dates for launch including Longhorn, the next version of Microsoft's operating system after XP.
Microsoft products, senior vice president, servers and tools, Eric Rudder, echoed the call of other executives from the company when asked about product launch dates and said Yukon and Whidbey will be "shipped when [they are] ready". When questioned if there was a more specific timeline, Rudder said the middle of next year.
While the impact of the delay might not be profound to revenue the software company could face complaints from customers, particularly those who purchased licences that include free upgrades to new products over a set period of time.
Under Microsoft's licensing programs, customers can choose to get free product upgrades during a two- or three-year window rather than buy a new licence when new products come out. The annuity program is intended to simplify purchases and save customers money, while giving Microsoft more predictable revenue.
While he could not cite a specific reason for the delay of the products -- not commenting on reports that SQL Server 2005 has had development issues -- Rudd told journalists at a roundtable discussion forum that Microsoft were committed to shipping the products around the same time because they will be tightly integrated for developers. He also cited Microsoft's strong commitment to getting products right before shipping them to users.
This is not the first delay for Yukon. Microsoft had said that the product would ship in 2003 and then changed the projected release date to the first half of 2004. In June last year, it said that Yukon and Whidbey would not be delivered until the latter half of 2004.
The new shipping date for Yukon also leaves a very short time during which customers can upgrade to the new version of the database, a leading analyst said. Microsoft plans to phase out full support of existing editions -- SQL Server 2000 and SQL Server 7 -- at the end of 2005. If Yukon ships in the middle of 2005 as anticipated, customers would have only a maximum of six months to plan an upgrade, which is a short period for a complex product like SQL Server.
Rudd added that Orcas, the code-name for the next version of Visual Studio after the Whidbey release, will be shipping around the same time as Longhorn.
Martin LaMonica contributed to this report.
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