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Microsoft's road map for Longhorn tools

Later this year, software giant will release tools to grease the skids for Longhorn, and next year will unveil new Exchange, BizTalk lines.

ORLANDO, Fla.--Microsoft later this year will look to populate the market for Windows Longhorn applications with development tools and the company's own server applications, including long-awaited updates to the Visual Studio programming tool and SQL Server.

At its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in September, Microsoft plans to provide further tooling for the forthcoming Visual Studio 2005 to encourage the creation of Longhorn applications. Company executives discussed its product plans, including new versions of Exchange and BizTalk server due next year, at its TechEd conference here Tuesday.

Applications that exploit the latest features in Windows, such as the new user interface or Web services-based connectivity, help compel customers to upgrade Windows.

Earlier this year, Microsoft released developer kits, called technology previews, for building Windows applications that use the Avalon presentation and Indigo communication systems in Longhorn. Those toolkits plug into Visual Studio.

After the release of Longhorn, Microsoft plans to release another version of Visual Studio, code-named Orcas, which will be optimized for building Longhorn applications.

"With the Avalon technology preview today, it's not as easy (to build Longhorn applications) as we want," said Ilya Bukshteyn, director of SQL Server marketing. "You're going to see at the PDC in September the next set of information of how we're going to help people build Longhorn apps."

After the release of Longhorn in late 2006, Microsoft plans to release another version of Visual Studio, code-named Orcas, which will be optimized for building Longhorn applications. The code name for the follow-on release to Orcas is Hawaii.

The biggest product release of 2005 will come in November, when the company makes its Visual Studio 2005 programming tool and SQL Server 2005 database available. The releases of these products have been

Microsoft executives on Monday said that with the Visual Studio 2005 release, developers will be able to build applications that use the Outlook e-mail and calendaring program as a front-end application, which users interact with directly.

Until this week, the company has said the Visual Studio Tools for Microsoft Office System would only allow programmers to build applications for Word and Excel.

New BizTalk and Exchange in 2006
In the first quarter of next year, Microsoft intends to release BizTalk Server 2006, its integration software for linking together disparate systems.

The follow-on release of BizTalk Server 2006 is code-named V-Next. That version of BizTalk will focus on simplifying the job of building workflow applications that involve collaborations among several people, said Steven Martin, group product manager at Microsoft's business process and integration division.

The BizTalk engineering group is working on two other projects expected to be released next year.

In the first half of next year, Microsoft will release its first radio frequency ID software, which will make it easier to collect data generated by RFID devices.

The RFID tools will be based on Microsoft's .Net development software. The company will seek to license it to other software vendors to build RFID data-gathering capabilities into third-party applications, Martin said.

The company has not said how it will package up the software but device drivers for a range of RFID devices will be built into Windows, said Paul Flessner, senior vice president of server applications.

The BizTalk group is also working on a unified workflow product which will be used by several different product groups at Microsoft, Martin said. Code-named Windows Workflow Services, the software will likely be available with Longhorn, he said.

Also due out around the same time as Longhorn will be a major upgrade of Exchange, Microsoft's messaging and calendar server.

Called Exchange Server 12, the software will have a "unified in-box" that will allow people to store e-mails, voice calls and also query their e-mail and calendar remotely with voice commands, said Kim Akers, senior director of Microsoft's Exchange Server division.

The server upgrade will also have improved antispam tools and support a scripting language, called Monad, which will make it easier for administrators to manage several servers at once, she said.

Microsoft also will make Exchange server functions available to programmers via Web services interfaces, which will make it easier to build applications with Exchange, Akers said.