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Microsoft sets summer delivery of SQL Server

Company pushes back third beta program of database to early next year; says final product is on track for next summer.

Microsoft said it will deliver its much-anticipated SQL Server 2005 database by next summer and pushed back the timing of a third beta testing program.

Earlier in the year, Microsoft delayed the delivery of SQL Server 2005, code-named Yukon, from the end of this year to the first half of 2005. On Monday, the company sent a letter to beta testers, saying a final product will be available next summer.

A third beta program, which had been scheduled for the end of this year, will now start in the first quarter of next year, Microsoft Senior Vice President Paul Flessner told beta testers in the letter. A widely available second beta program began in July.

To help customers and developers prepare for the third beta program, Microsoft released on Monday a Community Technical Preview of SQL Server 2005, which is an interim delivery between the second and third beta versions.

The preview "will allow you to test and experiment with new features as they are added to the product without having to wait for the next beta," Flessner said. He said the decision was part of the company's efforts to garner feedback from customers during development, which will improve the product's quality.

In his letter to testers, Flessner indicated that the final shipping date of next summer could still slip. He said that many factors, including customer and partner feedback and successful deployments of the database, will affect the timing of the final delivery.

Microsoft is expecting SQL Server to help it better compete against IBM and Oracle. Microsoft has beefed up the database's ability to handle more demanding computing jobs and plans to include several data analysis tools in the package.