Longhorn Beta Bundles

A bundle of 64-bit tools based around Longhorn for midsize businesses is in beta. When complete, the pack will boast SQL Server, Exchange, ISA Server, with management chores taken care of by System Center Essentials. Microsoft hopes this bundle, codenamed Centro, will be easier to install and manage than Linux-based rivals. My guess is we'll find that answer in early 2008. There's also help on the way for small businesses in the form of "Cougar," a new version of Small Business Server with much the same basic lineup as Centro.

Visual Studio Gets Service Pack Tweak
I've suddenly become very interested in Visual Studio, not because I have the ambition (or skill) to build the next killer app, but because we just launched a new magazine for corporate developers, Redmond Developer News.

For those who keep count, that's Redmond's third magazine launch in a smidge more than two years. First was Redmond magazine itself, then less than a year later Redmond Channel Partner, and last month we put out the first issue of Redmond Developer News.

This trio does two things: It takes up a lot of my time, so forgive grammatical errors and the many logical inconsistencies in this here newsletter (better to blame it on lack of time than lack of skill).

On the positive side, this lets us see more of the market and make connections between different segments. And that's how I became fascinated with Visual Studio. It drives much of how our computers look, act and function in years to come.

After 31 years as a developer-oriented company, the service pack (SP1) for Visual Studio 2005 ain't (there go those grammatical errors again!) quite the breakthrough that was Altair Basic, but for folks that live inside Visual Studio, it's a fairly big deal.

I've been communicating with a lot of Visual Studio folks lately, so when Microsoft says the service pack was driven by customer feedback, I buy it hook, line and sinker.

A lot of user problems have to do with performance, and VS SP1, partly through dual core support, tackles this problem. There's also a whole, big wad of bug fixes. Woohoo!

Next up is a service pack specifically aimed at Vista development.

Superconductors' Super Breakthroughs
I don't pretend to understand how superconductors work, but I'm happy as heck that we have them, especially when I hear about the breakthroughs expected next year. Hypres Inc., a superconductor vendor, has 10 predictions. First up, cheaper MRI machines. For anyone who ever paid for a back pain or muscular injury diagnosis, this is great news. Not to mention that the less-privileged might be able to afford this amazing diagnostic tool.

On a less profound but perhaps no less important note, superconductors may pave the way for a new class of super-speedy Internet switches, quantum computers and ultra high-speed workstations.

Superconductors may also drive a new class of efficient propulsion systems for ships, meaning Larry Ellison and Paul Allen will some day dramatically increase the gas mileage on their mega-yachts!

Microsoft Enters Robot Wars
Whether you like to build robots in your garage the way that bikers make choppers, or make your living from robots, Microsoft has a system for you. The company just shipped the first version of the Microsoft Robotics Studio. Redmond hopes to build an entire industry around its robotics platform.

If you're just a hobbyist, the $400 software kit is free.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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