Microsoft products, people and strategies that disappeared in 2006

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.

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?