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Developers get latest Microsoft database, tools

The long wait for SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 has ended for Microsoft developers. Products go to manufacturing.

Microsoft released long-awaited updates to its database and programming tools to developers on Thursday and revealed a plan to lure new database customers.

The company said that its SQL Server 2005 database and Visual Studio 2005 tools are available to subscribers of its Microsoft Developer Network. Those two products were also released to manufacturing on Thursday and will be generally available by November 7 after a number of delays.

In addition, Microsoft on Thursday detailed a limited-time "migration pricing" program meant to attract customers of competitive databases.

For customers of Oracle, Sybase, and IBM's DB2 and Informix database, Microsoft will give a 50 percent discount on a SQL Server Enterprise Edition license with the purchase of a regularly priced Software Assurance License. The promotion begins Dec. 1.

Microsoft intends to host an event in San Francisco to launch its latest database and development tools and tout BizTalk 2006, its integration server software update, which is due in the first quarter of 2006. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is scheduled to speak.

At the event, Microsoft will showcase how customers are using its server products to build business applications and it will highlight different partners, including both software companies that build add-ons as well as hardware manufacturers, according to the company.

Executives will emphasize how its server products, including Windows Server 2003, are designed to work well together and comprise an attractive "platform" for building applications, Steven Guggenheimer, general manager of application platform marketing and development at Microsoft, told CNET on Thursday.

The company will reveal benchmarks to demonstrate how SQL Server can be used for high-end computing jobs, and they will also highlight the company's low-end Express offerings, which are aimed at students, hobbyists and individual developers, Guggenheimer said.

Microsoft plans to release a slew of new products over the next 12 to 18 months, including Windows Vista, the first major update of its client operating system in five years, and a new release of Office.