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Microsoft delays Whidbey and Yukon releases

Microsoft has pushed back the release date for a major upgrade to its database and developer tools to the first half of 2005.

Yukon, the codename for the next version of Microsoft's SQL Server database, and Whidbey, the codename for an upgrade to Visual Studio .net, had both been due in the second half of 2004.

Both products are seen as key to the software maker's push into enterprise computing.

Whidbey will include improvements to make programmers more productive and help them build more robust applications, while Yukon will add scalability and other improvements that should help Microsoft compete better with database market leaders Oracle and IBM.

"Microsoft made the decision to delay the delivery of these products to ensure that they meet the high quality requirements of our customers," a Microsoft spokeswoman said.

The company remains on track to deliver Beta 2 of Yukon and Beta 1 of Whidbey in the coming months.

Microsoft has decided to release an additional beta of Yukon, Beta 3, at the end of this year, said Tom Rizzo, director of product management for SQL Server.

The idea is to give customers more time to run the software in production environments and provide Microsoft with more feedback to fine-tune the software before its final release, he said.

Microsoft has not run into technical difficulties with the development of either Yukon or Whidbey. The products will be tightly integrated and Microsoft has said it plans to release them concurrently.

The delays are unlikely to have a big impact on Microsoft from a competitive standpoint but could be an inconvenience to some of its customers, according to Rob Helm, director of research at Directions on Microsoft, an independent research company.

In 2001, Microsoft encouraged customers to sign up for three-year licensing contracts that cover the cost of upgrades to its products. SQL Server customers who signed up for such a licence with the expectation that they would receive a major upgrade to SQL Server will now be disappointed.

Microsoft does not plan to extend the contracts so that customers are covered for the Yukon upgrade, Rizzo said, adding that Software Assurance includes other benefits besides upgrades.

Delaying Yukon will also reduce the amount of time that customers will have to migrate to Microsoft's new database.

Full support for SQL Server 7.0 and SQL Server 2000 are set to expire at the end of 2005.

James Niccolai writes for IDG News Service

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