TechEd 2003: Flessner Lays Out Microsoft Platform Roadmap

In what is starting to be a trend for Microsoft executive keynote addresses, Microsoft senior vice president Paul Flessner presented the company's platform product roadmap, which stretches out three years or more. Flessner's roadmap is similar to the Windows client roadmap and Windows Server roadmap, presented at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) last month by Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and corporate vice president David Thompson, respectively. But Flessner's roadmap focuses on client and server platforms such as Microsoft Office, SQL Server, and Exchange Server in addition to the Windows products.

"The all-important roadmap is something we are asked about often," Flessner noted. "Now, 2003 and 2004, that's pretty well baked and you're going to see some pretty specific things around \[these two years. Some products have\] already shipped, so Windows Server 2003 and Visual Studio .NET simultaneously shipped together because of the number of components that were included in the operating system in terms of the \[.NET\] Framework and the \[.NET Common Language\] Runtime."

For Windows products, Flessner said that Windows "Longhorn," the next major client release, would ship in calendar year 2005, while the server-based follow-up, code-named "Blackcomb," could be expected in 2006 or later. "You've seen some things in the press about Longhorn," Flessner said. "Our Longhorn release \[is\] a very exciting release where we're trying to do some breakthrough work around UI and storage, and you'll be seeing a lot more of that in the coming months as we get more ... definition around that release. And then as you move further out, things get a little sketchier. Two years, three years is a long time to project, but you can expect another release of Windows Server about three years from now in the 2006 timeframe. We've really just moved the team off of the 2003 product that they just released, and \[we're\] now really getting focused on the definition and feature sets that we'll put into the market in '06 and a lot of \[complementary features\] certainly around the Longhorn product."

Other Microsoft platforms include Application Infrastructure, Information Worker Infrastructure, and Operations Infrastructure. Upcoming Application Infrastructure products include BizTalk Server 2004, SQL Server "Yukon," and Visual Studio .NET "Whidbey," all due in 2004, and Visual Studio "Orcas" and the "Jupiter" eBusiness suite, which are due in 2005. Upcoming Information Worker Infrastructure products include SharePoint Portal Server 2003, Exchange Server 2003, Office 2003, Project Server 2003, and RTC Server 2003, all due in 2003; Office for Longhorn, RTC Server v2, and SharePoint Portal Server v3, all due in 2005; and Exchange Server "Kodiak," which is due in 2006-7; "Exchange 'Kodiak' \[is\] the much talked about version of Exchange that will be running on top of SQL Server," Flessner said. "This will give you all of the advantages of Web services and standard toolkits built-in." For Operations Infrastructure products, we can expect System Management Server (SMS) 2003 this year, Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2004 and the System Center Suite (SMS 2003 + MOM 2004) in early 2004, and System Center v2 in 2006.

Summing up the roadmap, Flessner explained that Microsoft's mission was very simple. "Microsoft is a software company," he said. "That's really all we do. We're not confused about it. We're not a hardware company. We make a couple of keyboards and some mice and some other silly stuff but it's not anything that makes any money. I don't make any money on our services organization. We have 4,000 MCS people around the world whose job is to really engage customers early and to work with partners and bring in partners to make sure that the systems integrators around the world are helping build the applications that you need and the help you need and overall it takes all of these partners to make sure that the solutions come to market."

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