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BizTalk Server 2006 'R2' Feature Set Divulged

Microsoft this week disclosed new features coming in BizTalk Server 2006 Release 2 (R2), including integrated support for radio frequency identification (RFID) devices.

Another significant feature slated for the R2 release is support for electronic data interchange (EDI) and Applicability Statement 2 (AS2), a protocol specification for handling EDI transactions.

Additionally, R2 will feature tight integration with Windows Vista and with Office System 2007, particularly SharePoint services, according to Microsoft officials.

R2 will also add support for two components of Microsoft's coming WinFX technologies -- the Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF) and the Windows Communication Foundation (WCF). It will also provide a "universal" adapter framework built on top of WinFX that will let customers write custom adapters to improve interoperability between their applications.

"[Using the new framework], you can build an adapter once and use it multiple places," Burley Kawasaki, group product manager for BizTalk Server, said in an interview. WWF and WCF capabilities coming in Vista and Longhorn Server enable business processes to be linked into Office 2007.

"[You can] link collaborative processes inside SharePoint with the transactional processes you manage using BizTalk Server," Kawasaki said. It's not by accident that R2 is due out in the first half of 2007, the same timeframe as for the delivery of those products, he added.

The new RFID capabilities are designed to improve supply chain integration in BizTalk Server 2006, enabling RFID-driven supply chain events to be integrated with back-end business processes.

Customers and partners who participate in the BizTalk Server 2006 R2 technology adoption program (TAP) will be able to get early previews of R2, the company said in a statement.

Interested parties can register for the preview here.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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