Slipping schedules in Redmond�how late is late?

Microsoft said that its SQL Server 2005 database and Visual Studio 2005 development tools will ship in the second half of this year, instead of this summer.

The question now is, when in the second half? The company declined to say whether they will ship these products in the third or fourth quarter this year.

The company could still meet its "summer" deadline by delivering the products before September 22, when autumn officially begins. But that seems unlikely given that the company has changed its wording to "second half of the year." The product was delayed more than once, the last pushing it to the first half of this year.

Does another delay matter? Most customers are already very familiar with the status of these products, as Microsoft has been sending out early "community technology previews" to let developers get their hands on the code. Certainly, customers would rather wait for a high-quality, secure product than something rushed out the door.

Still, a significant delay could put a crimp in some customers' plans. And Microsoft's competitors certainly won't pass up an opportunity to lure away customers.

Another question is whether a delay will have a significant ripple effect in other development groups. For example, the new communications system in the Longhorn edition of Windows, called Indigo, depends on the .Net Framework 2.0, which is supposed to ship in Visual Studio 2005.

For now, we're still waiting for answers.

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