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Microsoft to hand out early code

Developers conference attendees will get latest "build" of Vista and nearly finished versions of SQL Server and Visual Studio 2005.

LOS ANGELES--Looking to drive demand for a wave of forthcoming products, Microsoft will fill the pockets of developers this week with early versions of several programs, including the latest "build" of Windows Vista.

At the software giant's Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles, Microsoft is planning to provide programmers with the code for an early version of Vista, as well as Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005, both of which will be released in November. Vista, the client version of the next release of Windows developed under the code name Longhorn, is expected to be released next year.

The company will distribute the software on Tuesday, following morning keynotes by Bill Gates, Microsoft's chief software architect, and Jim Allchin, the group vice president in charge of Windows.

In addition, company executives are hosting several sessions at which they plan to lift the hood on the inner workings of Microsoft's Office 12 suite and encourage developers to build applications on top of Office.

Meanwhile, Microsoft's MSN division intends to publish the application programming interfaces to a number of its Web properties, including MSN Search and Messenger. The company plans to launch a new MSN-oriented developer site on Tuesday. The effort is part of a long-term strategy meant to help programmers build applications that combine information from public Web sites.

As it has done at past conferences, Microsoft is providing technical details as a way of seeding the market for third-party applications that run on Microsoft's development "stack," or combination of components, as well as its Web properties.

Office 12, due out next year, will include a number of features to improve collaboration, in part through closer integration with Microsoft's server products. To ease development of workflow-oriented applications, Microsoft is upgrading its InfoPath form-based application builder, and it will outline search improvements to its SharePoint portal server, according to the PDC session descriptions.

At the conference, Microsoft is also expected to provide more details on BizTalk Server 2006, which is due early next year, and its integration server strategy.

Planned sessions include discussions on writing online Web applications with MSN properties, future directions on Windows, the company's planned use of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) protocol and planned support for scripting languages in the Common Language Runtime.

CNET's Mike Ricciuti contributed to this report.