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Live from TechMentor: Microsoft's Keynote

This week at the joint TechMentor and VSLive! conferences keynote in Las Vegas, Microsoft representatives emphasized the new security, integration and productivity features of Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008. (Note: These conferences are owned by 1105 Media, which also publishes this Web site.)

David Lowe, senior project manager in Microsoft's Windows Server division, emphasized the manageability and security of Windows Server 2008, among other topics.

"We know that when customers install a server, they don't say, 'Oh, I'm going to install a new Windows server.' They say they're going install a Web server, or a file server, or a print server, or a domain server, or a DHCP server or a DNS server. They like to think of servers in terms of roles," he commented. "So when we manage Windows Server 2008, we're thinking about these roles. Tools like Server Manager, tools like PowerShell will allow you to automate tasks based on these roles. We're making it easier to manage these platforms."

Lowe said that the focus on roles is part of what will make Windows Server 2008 more secure: Because Microsoft won't be presuming what the functions of the server are, the default even under full installation is not to physically install the components unless the administrator chooses them.

Lowe also talked about IIS improvements, including component installation and better integration with .NET -- particularly data storage and configuration information, giving portability and sharing options to config files.

Virtualization was also a big topic. "It's key for this platform," Lowe said. "We will provide an integrated suite of management products that will allow you to manage not just your physical infrastructure, but also your virtual infrastructure, through System Center Operations Manager, System Center Configuration Manager and the new System Center Virtual Machine Manager." (For more information on Windows Server 2008 and virtualization, as well as other topics, check out our post-keynote interview with David Lowe here).

Next up was D. Britton Johnson, Microsoft's product unit manager for SQL Server, who thanked attendees for their rapid adoption of SQL Server 2005 before launching into what customers will see in SQL Server 2008.

Britton said that this version of SQL is focused on three areas: security, productivity and intelligent management. "On the trusted side, we've done tremendous amount of work securing SQL Server 2008," he said, pointing out the new encryption features as one example. "In the past, encryption with SQL Server is something that you had to deal with from a programming perspective. In 2008, we allow you to create an encrypted database with no programming involved."

"We also keep that encryption in place even in memory, even in the buffer pool, so we keep it encrypted as long as we can."

Britton said his favorite new feature is "plan freezing." Currently, when moving a project from, for example, a testing environment to a live environment, the Query Optimizer may pick another plan because the data set changes in size. "[With plan freezing] you're able to capture all the plans that you have relative to a certain application or an entire server and fix those so that when you're bringing it to another enviornment...you won't be impacted by the plan selection of the Query Optimizer," he explained.

Britton also emphasized productivity updates, including new Visual Studio 2008 tools, PowerShell integration and policy management integration, as well as support for additional data types like file streams and spatial data types.

The final speaker of the trio, Dave Mendlen, a Microsoft marketing manager, talked about how the company wants Visual Studio 2008 to allow developers to build "mouth-watering, beautiful" applications while also making the platform easier and more efficient to use, thanks to features in Visual Studio Team System and Windows Presentation Foundation, among others.

He also highlighted the enterprise features of Team Foundation Server: "With TFS, we have version control [enabling] you to have all of your source code in enterprise-capable storage." According to Mendlen, more that 7,000 developers at Microsoft are currently using TFS. "We use it to build our applications."

Although Microsoft has scheduled a promotional launch of all three programs on Feb. 27, 2008, the actual live dates have not been announced. SQL Server 2008 is expected to be released to manufacturing in Q2 2008, with Windows Server 2008 expected in Q1 and Visual Studio 2008 possibly before that.

About the Author

Becky Nagel is the vice president of Web & Digital Strategy for 1105's Enterprise Computing and Education Groups, where she oversees the front-end Web team and deals with all aspects of digital strategy for the groups. She also serves as executive editor the ECG Web sites, and you'll even find her byline on PureAI.com, the ECG group's newest site for enterprise developers working with AI. She recently gave a talk at a leading technical publishers conference about how changes in Web technology may impact publishers' bottom lines. Follow her on twitter @beckynagel.

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