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Microsoft Spotlights Windows Phone 7, System Center, Visual Studio at Tech-Ed Opening Keynote

Microsoft's Tech-Ed conference for IT pros in Atlanta Monday morning highlighted the company's plans for Windows Phone 7, System Center 2012 and Visual Studio, among other products.

The next release of Windows Phone 7, code-named "Mango" and scheduled for release later this year, will offer a big bump in business functionality compared to the current version, according to the company. At Tech-Ed today, Robert Wahbe, Microsoft corporate vice president of Server and Tools Marketing, talked about plans for Mango as well as for Microsoft's business intelligence tools.

Mango will offer access to Microsoft's Lync Server, the company's platform for unified communications, Wahbe announced at the show today. Users will be able to manipulate, share and save documents in Windows Phone 7 via Office 365, giving mobile and non-mobile users access to the latest version of each document. Mango will also feature pinnable e-mail folders, an e-mail conversation view and a host of other features, including complex password support and Information Rights Management, Microsoft officials said today.

Microsoft's planned $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype seems aimed, in part, at giving the company a mature video client for Lync server, but the word "Skype" never came up in this morning's keynote. Microsoft Senior Product Manager Augusto Valdez did demonstrate Mango's Lync interaction, though, as well as some of the more significant upcoming upgrades to the mobile operating system's interface.

Wahbe also discussed enhanced business intelligence capabilities forthcoming from Microsoft, including Project Crescent, a set of self-service reporting capabilities that use PowerPivot for Excel to allow users to quickly and easily create reports based on Excel data. Project Crescent will ship as part of the next version of SQL Server, code-named "Denali," for which Microsoft has not specified a release date. Microsoft Distinguished Engineer Amir Netz demonstrated Project Crescent at this morning's keynote.

System Center 2012 also got a demo workout, and Wahbe confirmed that the forthcoming version of Microsoft's popular management suite will support competitive mobile platforms iOS, Android and Symbian. Microsoft also demonstrated how it has worked with NASA and used its Kinect gesture-based gaming tool to build a spectacular telescope navigable by a user's hand gestures.

Another star of this morning's show was Visual Studio, which Microsoft hopes to bring to a wider IT audience with vNext, the forthcoming version of the development environment. Microsoft demonstrated vNext this morning in a presentation led by Jason Zander, corporate vice president of Visual Studio at Microsoft. (VisualStudioMagazine.com has excellent coverage of all of today's Visual Studio news from Tech-Ed.)

vNext will include application lifecycle management, which Microsoft officials say will help enmesh non-developer IT pros and application stakeholders into the application-development process. The company also announced today the first community technology preview (CTP) of Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 connector for Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010.

Other announcements Microsoft made this morning include additional virtualization support for Exchange 2010 and improved Linux interoperability.

A crowd of about 10,000 IT and development professionals is in Atlanta this week for Tech-Ed; this morning's keynote began with an overflow audience that seemed interested in talking about Windows Phone 7 but thinned a bit during the Visual Studio demonstrations. The show continues through Thursday.

About the Author

Lee Pender is the executive features editor of Redmond magazine. You can reach him at lpender@redmondmag.com or follow him on Twitter.

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