Microsoft Launches Key 2008 Products

Ballmer highlights how products work together

Microsoft literally rolled out the blue carpet for the 4,000 IT professionals, developers, staff, and partners who attended its official launch event for Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008, and SQL Server 2008 today in Los Angeles.

While the launch wasn't actually timed with the products' releases -- Visual Studio 2008 was released in November, Windows Server 2008 is being released March 1, and SQL Server 2008 is coming later this year -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer used his keynote at the Nokia Theatre to promote how the products will work together to create a "dynamic IT" infrastructure for enterprises.

Following a short introductory speech by veteran television journalist Tom Brokaw addressing how technology can make lives better for millions worldwide, Ballmer took the stage and dove right into the company's "Heroes Happen Here" launch theme.

"To me, the heart of this industry are the software developers and IT professionals who go out every day and make great things happen," he commented, "working every day to make their companies better ... building new solutions, getting them deployed.

"[These products are] simply the enablers for the types of heroes represented here in this room and in the IT and software development community worldwide."

For Windows Server 2008 -- which has been released to manufacturing and is scheduled to go live on March 1 -- Ballmer focused heavily on its role in the company's overall virtualization strategy. In fact, the server's built-in virtualization solution, Hyper-V, took the No. 1 spot in one of the keynote's slide showing the top 10 innovations in the product.

"Today we launch our virtualization strategy in earnest," he said. "We want to democratize virtualization," making it easy, efficient, interoperable and cheap enough to run on as many servers as a company desires, he said.

"The thing that is quite unique about our approach to virtualization is that we take virtualization as just a piece of overall management," Ballmer continued. "You don't manage [virtualization], you manage a datacenter."

Hyper-V will come in beta form with Windows Server 2008; a final version is expected to debut during the third quarter.

Ballmer also spoke about what Microsoft feels Visual Studio 2008 is bringing to the development community. "We live in a world where the need for speed [in] developing new solutions, new applications ... has never been higher," he commented. "Visual Studio 2008 brings technologies for building new, rich Web applications very rapidly ... the ability and speed at which someone can write an application has never been stronger."

Ballmer also promoted the strength of IIS 7, saying it's "the best platform, bar none, for hosting Web applications either in a shared or nonshared environment." He emphasized the future of open development -- "not just open source,[but] openness for interoperability [and] opening the development process so that designers and codes are linked from the beginning."

With SQL Server 2008, the keynote focused on upcoming version's new resource management tools as well as its business intelligence reporting tools that can be used in conjunction with a range of Microsoft products from Excel to SharePoint to Microsoft Maps to build interactive, real-time interfaces. "We've done lot of work to optimize [it] for data integration, reporting and analysis ... with all different class data types," he said. Other features highlighted in the presentation include policy-based management, on-the-fly "transparent" database encryption, and geospatial data support.

About the Author

Becky Nagel is the vice president of Web & Digital Strategy for 1105's Converge360 Group, where she oversees the front-end Web team and deals with all aspects of digital projects at the company, including launching and running the group's popular virtual summit and Coffee talk series . She an experienced tech journalist (20 years), and before her current position, was the editorial director of the group's sites. A few years ago she gave a talk at a leading technical publishers conference about how changes in Web browser technology would impact online advertising for publishers. Follow her on twitter @beckynagel.

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