Official Microsoft Visual Studio/SQL Server/BizTalk Launch Day Has Arrived

November 7, 2005?Starting today in San Francisco, where Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer kicks off the party, and moving across the country throughout this month and December, Microsoft is sponsoring a series of “Launch Tour 2005” events intended to familiarize developers with the breadth and depth of its next-generation development tools.

These one-day launch tour events provide opportunities for developers to get complimentary versions of Visual Studio and SQL Server 2005, attend educational sessions and labs to experience the new software first-hand, to hear Microsoft luminaries discuss the new capabilities available to developers, and to meet and discuss development and database topics with others experts in the field. These events are free, but require registration. Many of the events are already full, so if you plan to attend an event in your area but haven’t already registered, check the Launch Tour 2005 site for more information.

VS 2005: Many Editions, Tailored Functionality
Visual Studio 2005 ships in several different editions. At the low end, the Visual Studio Express Editions provide a simplified and streamlined development environment targeted at specific languages or application types. These editions are intended primarily for learning and experimenting with .NET application development. Originally intended to be sold at a $49 price point, Microsoft announced Monday that it would distribute the Express versions for free. Though the company’s plans may change, Visual Studio Group Product Manager Prashant Sridharan said Monday that Express editions will be free for one year.

For database development, you can use any of the Visual Studio editions with the SQL Server Express 2005 Edition, which provides all the development features of SQL Server 2005 but limits addressable RAM to 1GB, maximum database size to 4GB, and can be installed on (but doesn’t take advantage of) multiprocessor servers.

The Visual Studio 2005 Standard Edition ($299, upgrade $199), lets you build department-grade Web applications as well as Windows, console, mobile, and client-server applications, using Visual Basic, C#, J#, or C++.

For professional developers, Microsoft offers two editions. The Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition ($799, upgrade $549), targets all the application types discussed above, and adds remote server development and debugging, 64-bit capability, and a full-featured development environment. The Visual Studio 2005 Tools for the Microsoft Office System ($799, upgrade $549), is intended primarily for developers building Office automation applications. This version does not include the J# or C++ languages, 64-bit support, or support for Mobile projects, but includes a Windows Server 2003 Developer Edition, and Microsoft Access 2003 Developer Extensions and a runtime license. Both Professional editions include SQL Server Developer Edition.

Enterprises should consider Visual Studio Team System Editions, which basically integrates application planning and lifecycle management tools with Visual Studio Professional Edition. Unfortunately, Microsoft has made some rather arbitrary choices about exactly what features various types of developers need, making Team System available in three versions:

  • Visual Studio Team Edition for Software Architects?visual designers that enable architects, operations managers, and developers to design service-oriented solutions that can be validated against their operational environments
  • Visual Studio Team Edition for Software Developers?advanced development tools that enable teams to build reliable, mission-critical services and applications
  • Visual Studio Team Edition for Software Testers?advanced load testing tools that enable teams to verify the performance of applications prior to deployment

Finally, those who need all the features can buy Visual Studio Team Suite, which bundles all three Team Editions into an expensive package. You can find pricing for VSTS editions here.Before you select a product, be sure to check out this Visual Studio 2005 Product Line Overview page to ensure the version you’re interested in supports the types of applications you want to develop.

SQL Server 2005 and BizTalk Server 2006
SQL Server 2005, Microsoft’s first version upgrade in five years, includes CLR integration, letting you write stored procedures in .NET languages, XML support, integration with BizTalk Server and Commerce Server, extensive Business Intelligence (BI) capabilities, expanded reporting capabilities, direct Web access to data, and more. Pricing for the Standard, Workgroup, and Enterprise editions is available here. These versions run only on Windows Server 2000/2003.

BizTalk Server 2006 adds support for in-order message processing, transactional pipelines, non-atomic interchange, SharePoint Services adaptors, Web Services Enhancements 2.0, POP3, and improved SMTP support for attachments and the “follow-up” flag. Simplified management and deployment, extended Business Activity Management (BAM), an improved Orchestration Designer, better flat-file import, project import/export capabilities, and support for bulk operations round out this update.

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