Microsoft products, people and strategies that disappeared in 2006

Microsoft products, people and strategies that disappeared in 2006

Summary: Quite a few of the e-mails I receive start out with "Whatever happened to ... (insert Microsoft product, person and/or strategy here). In that spirit, here are ten Microsoft-related disappearances about which I'm left wondering as 2006 draws to a close.

TOPICS: Microsoft

Quite a few of the e-mails I receive start out with "Whatever happened to ... (insert Microsoft product, person and/or strategy here). In that spirit, here are ten Microsoft-related disappearances about which I'm left wondering as 2006 draws to a close.

Anyone know the whereabouts of:

1. Longhorn Server November Community Technology Preview (CTP) release. In October, the Longhorn Server team committed to a November CTP, a January CTP and sometime in the early part of 2007, Beta 3. So far, this team's been hitting all its milestones like clockwork. Where is the November CTP? Any testers get it?

2. Windows Live ID software development kit (SDK). Windows Live ID is the successor to Passport. Third parties (and other Microsoft development teams) hoping to make their sites/software Live-ID compatible need the SDK. Last I heard, the SDK was going to ship before the end of 2006. Then one of the key Live ID leaders quit. So where is that SDK now?

3. Eric Rudder. Anyone remember when Eric Rudder was cited as the most likely successor to Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates? For now, Senior VP of Technical Strategy Rudder is still reporting to Gates and still seen jetting around the world and making public appearances here and there. But for the most part, Rudder has gone underground. Once Gates relinquishes his crown, will Microsoft become "Rudderless"?

4. BitVault: Earlier this year, there were signs that Microsoft was ready to field a test build of BitVault, a Microsoft Research-developed technology designed to store large volumes of seldom-changing information—the kind of material that overwhelms enterprises needing to house lots of compliance and reference data. BitVault was moved under the Clusters, File Systems and Storage team. Then ... silence.

5. Katmai: Speaking of database-related topics, anyone else notice we've seen and heard nothing about "Katmai," the next version of SQL Server, for months now? Microsoft officials seem intent on rolling out more regular, frequent product releases -- not just in the Windows division, but across the entire company. SQL Server 2005 is the most recent release of SQL Server out there. If Katmai betas and CTPs don't start until some time next year, when will the gold release finally hit?

6. "Better Together." Microsoft's strategy to convince customers to deploy and use more Microsoft products in tandem is still alive and kicking. But by the end of 2006, Microsoft officials seemed to be shying away from using the "Better Together" catch phrase to describe the concept. Could antitrust-ligitation concerns be behind the shift? (Let's hope the same fate soon befalls the meaningless "People Ready" branding.)

7. Knowledge Network. SharePoint Server is one of Microsoft's most strategic assets. There are a ton of features built into the 2007 release of that product. But one feature that got left on the cutting room floor was Knowledge Network (KN). The goal of KN is to allow users to find, organize and access experts within their companies. The new KN plan, announced just this week, is to introduce KN as an unsupported "technical preview" in the first half of 2007.

8. Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI). DSI isn't dead. But it's not exactly alive and kicking, either. After 2005, a year when Microsoft officials seemed to lump nearly every management-related product and service under Microsoft's DSI autonomic-computing moniker, DSI got barely a mention in 2006. The Microsoft DSI Web site contains a lot of old links. Will DSI get a facelift in 2007, or just fade quietly away?

9. Quattro. "Quattro," or the eagerly awaited Windows Server Home SKU, is still nowhere to be found. Microsoft execs first discussed the company's plans for such a beast back in 2005. While there are rumors that Microsoft is quietly gearing up to deliver a test build of such a product, as of today, there's still no public (or even publicly acknowledged private) beta build of Quattro out there.

10. LiveDrive. We know LiveDrive exists. Microsoft officials have acknowledged plans for a file-hosting service that will be part of the Windows Live family. One LiveDrive team member even blogged quite a few of the details about it -- only to have his post (if not his job) subsequently removed -- for the most part. So where is Microsoft's answer to Gdrive? It still doesn't seem to be in beta yet. Some are speculating that Microsoft will use the Consumer Electronics Show in January as the LiveDrive launch pad. We'll soon find out.

Have any other candidates to add to this "Where Are They Now" list?

Topic: Microsoft


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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  • Correction

    In your note on Eric Rudder you said: "Once Gates relinquishes his CEO title, will Microsoft become "Rudderless"?" Gates is not Microsoft CEO...hasn't been for years. Ballmer is the CTO. Gates is Chairman and Chief Software Architect. I hear second hand that Eric Rudder is working on some interesting "special projects" and is far from being irrelevant.
    • Now I correct my own typo..

      Ballmer is the cEo, not cTo. :)
    • Gates

      Thanks. My mistake on the title. Fixed now.

      Yeah, I keep hearing about Rudder's "special projects," too. I'll be interested to see if he sticks around and sees any of them through or goes....
      Mary Jo Foley
      • Special Projects?

        Doesn't special projects mean you are a step closer to the door!
        I am Gorby
  • BitVault, Bricks, and DSI

    Mary Jo,

    I've also wondered what happened to BitVault, [Storage] Bricks, and "multiple data service centers (SCs) created from groups of autonomous computing cells (ACCs) built from commodity server bricks" to quote David Campbell (, which also quotes many of your Windows Watcher pieces).

    Whenever I hear "autonomous" I wonder what "hype vacuum" swallowed DSI. Even IBM is quiet on the "autonomous computing" topic.

    • BitVault, Bricks, and DSI Redux

      Forgot to mention that my conclusion as to why storage bricks slipped under the radar was the ratio of licensing to hardware cost. A license for Windows Server 2003 R2 Standard (let alone Enterprise) probably would be several times that of a commodity server with a few terabytes of storage.

      On the other hand, IBM DB2 9 Express-C runs on Linux, has no license fee for up to two two-core CPUs and 4 GB RAM.

      BitVault and Bricks don't appear to me to mesh with Microsoft's current server marketing strategy.

  • spell check

    8. Dynamic Systems Iniative (DSI).

    should be "initiative".
    • re: spell check

      you fixed it fast.
    • wanker

      need say more?
  • one at a time untill M$ vanishes!

    It appears that M$ decided to cut the loses, and rather than go belly up as a whole giant, is dissapearing in small pieces.
    Linux has done it's job well, the freedom is arround the corner!
    Linux Geek
    • We'll have to stick with MS for some time

      Microsoft won't vanish over night or in the near future, because 'we' have been giving them money in previously unheard quantities. They can burn a 100 dollar bill a second for quite a period before the go into financial problems.

      But Microsoft is going to learn - as IBM learnt in the late 1980'es - that you can rule or dictate your customers for a period, but not forever. When that happens Microsoft will learn it's place in the world: Alongside other hefty competitors like IBM, Linux, Oracle and some we haven't heard of yet. For the majority of the world - all those billions of people buying and using the stuff, as opposed to the few hundred thousands producing it and the few hundred shoveling in the money - the returning of choice, competition, and lower prices we come as a godsend.

      And it can only happen to slowly.
  • Interesting...

    ...from a number of points of view.

    First off, is the number of items that frankly I, as an incidental consumer rather than a corporate or other MS supplicant, could care less about. Taken as a group, the list seems to underscore Microsoft's increasing fragmentation as it tries to dominate on so many fronts. Maybe MS is trying to refocus..

    Perhaps the quiet is a deliberate ploy to keep focus on Vista and Office Vista. Given the great yawn that most of us are giving to both products, it might be a good strategy.
  • Better together

    would probably result in a fine of around $10million a day from the European Commission, if not an outright ban from the European market. The EU has repeatedly told Microsoft that it is to allow its competitors to compete on equal terms, and only releasing parts of the Vista interface (such as the security hooks released today) after the product ships is already a blatant abuse of its commitments, which they can expect to hear quite a lot more about - for instance, Firefox' problems with Vista in this very area when IE7 has been live for ages. They can't say they haven't been warned, either: the Commission specifically warned them in the summer.
    Pushing tandem products like this just might result in a trade war - the Commission's had about as much as it'll take, this isn't about anti-trust any longer, it's about whether MS is above the law or not, and if it thinks it is, then it'll find that it's wrong, big-time.
  • Sinking ships...

    ...produce flotsum and jetsum.
  • Whatever happened to UEFI

    EFI seems to make a lot of sense with respect to replacing the BIOS and the established boot process. However, the implementation by Microsoft seems to be erratic.

    Quote from

    "Although the initial release of Windows Vista will not include UEFI x64 64-bit support, a subsequent Windows Vista release will support UEFI."

    This means the initial release of Vista will not include a standard that M$ and Intel pushed. ELILO for Linux has existed since Intel released EFI. The year was 2000. EFI will soon be supported by GRUB2.

    For the time being, It seems that M$ Vista technical resources are focused upon other priorities and issues.


  • People Ready

    All aside, I actually like this campaign. The idea that employees have access to the tools they need to do their job is a nice one and far from guaranteed everywhere. If it can make more CTOs, CIOs, 007s and whatever acronyms are popular aware that empowering their employees with good tools for the job will benefit all, that's nothing but great.
    The strong message in the MS campaign is that employers who're oblivious to ensuring their employees have the tools they need for the job might quickly find themselves without employees make a lot of sense.
  • People Ready 2

    What this campaign really is about is using a strategy saying "Give users what they need", or "Give employees the tools needed for the business work". This is absolutely contrary what most companies have been doing an many years, where they just gave users whatever Microsoft marketed. Some even boasting of having a "Microsoft strategy" instead of having their own SW strategy.
    Change SW purchase from being supplier driven to being business driven, just like any other business purchase.
  • Microsoft is...

    ...the king of vaporware :)
  • Live Drive = Foldershare?

    I worked for MS until mid-2006. You are spot on with your recent postings about Microsoft's schizophrenic business strategy, especially when it comes to branding - and it's just as confusing for those inside The Beast.

    I believe Microsoft's recent purchase of file hosting app/service 'Foldershare' is the planned replacement for File Drive.

    Much of the branding fuzziness (and launch delays) stem from the various product heads jockeying for ownership -- Is file sharing a Collaboration feature? Or a Live feature? Or an Outlook add-in? Or a Dynamics/CRM component? -- you get the idea. The Microsofties can't seem to get out of their own way. It's unfortunate, there are a lot of really talented people in the trenches chomping at the bit to get past the noise and go to work.
  • RE: Microsoft products, people and strategies that disappeared in 2006

    Have a look at Azure storage. Look like BitVault ??