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Microsoft's Roadmap Steers Toward the Present

Microsoft stayed away from laying out an ambitious roadmap for future technologies at this year's Tech-Ed conference held last month, instead focusing on products and issues IT shops face today -- at least ones that will be relevant by year's end.

One of those products was the long-awaited Windows Server 2008, formerly code-named "Longhorn," due to ship by year's end. One capability executives clearly emphasized is the operating system's ability to deploy variations of Windows Server designed to handle very specific tasks, including Web hosting.

Another announcement was a plan to offer version 7.0 of Internet Information Services Web Server as part of a Server Core installation option for Windows Server 2008. In a third announcement, Redmond said it had acquired Engyro, a Cincinnati-based developer. Prior to the deal, Microsoft carried out joint sales engagements with Engryo so it could supply connectivity software to link its management tools to applications built by third parties.

In his opening-day keynote speech, Bob Muglia, in charge of Microsoft's server and tools business, offered details on the company's strategy for what he called "Dynamic IT for the People-Ready Business." According to Muglia, Dynamic IT builds on the company's Dynamic Systems Initiative intended to offer up "the key areas of technical innovation necessary to make IT shops more important to their overall business."

Muglia also talked about the company's emerging services-oriented architecture-like strategy but appeared reluctant to actually use the phrase. He used terms closely associated with service-oriented architecture (SOA) such as "agile," "user-focused," "service-enabled" but did not use the acronym itself.

"The thing to think about here is that it's very focused on real-world things," Muglia said. "It's about how we can deliver things in the short run, but there's also a focus on long-term plans."

Microsoft isn't trying to avoid using the acronym, according to Steve Guggenheimer, general manager of application platform and dev marketing. "The reason we use service-enabled instead of SOA is I don't think SOA is encompassing enough," he explains.

Microsoft has some customers who wish to SOA-enable legacy assets and existing business processes to create composite applications, and others focused on applying SOA through Web services and mashup-type development, according to Guggenheimer. "We think about all of that as part of the service continuum," he says.

Muglia also took some time to describe Microsoft's "Software Plus Services" strategy. "What we see as the future is that apps will have to be able to reach out and interact with consumers of many types," he said in his keynote. "We've been using .NET as a foundation for this...As we move forward, we see services augmenting that environment, reaching all customers wherever they are."

Micro Framework Updated
At Tech-Ed Microsoft also updated its .NET Micro Framework -- which debuted this February -- announcing it had ported the framework to Analog Devices Inc.'s Blackfin processors. For the first time, according to company officials, developers with portable devices and multimedia applications can leverage both .NET and Visual Studio, which they hope will quicken the design of small and low-power embedded systems.

About the Author

Ed Scannell is the editor of Redmond magazine.

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