Get Ready for SQL Server 2008

SQL Server 2008 is nearly here, and it's still 2008! Microsoft says the software will be released to manufacturing by the end of September, and then out to customers a short time later.

I poke fun, but on the server side Microsoft has been hitting its dates pretty dang well. Hyper-V was even early.

We took a look at the database tool, formerly code-named "Katmai" (which is a volcano in Alaska), and found SQL Server 2008 to have tighter integration with Visual Studio, and more ways to deal with alternative types of data, such as music and video clips.

We also took a peek at SQL Server 2008's admin features, finding that its new admin framework can have a big, positive impact on performance.

Yahoo Fight Gets Wacky
You would think that when billions of dollars are at stake, the stake holders would all have their stories straight. But Yahoo and Microsoft have very different versions of what led to the offer Microsoft made to acquire Yahoo's search business.

The offer was made on Friday and fairly promptly rejected by the Yahoo-ites. This surprised Microsoft, which claims that the chairman of the Yahoo board, Roy Bostock, solicited the offer. After receiving the offer that Bostock allegedly asked for, called Microsoft's behavior "erratic and unpredictable."

Say what you will about the folks in Redmond, I've never seen them all erratic and unpredictable. In fact, every time I've seen the company act erratic, it was part of a greater plan.

What is your sense of Microsoft's behavior, especially since Gates has steadily given up power? Your thoughts welcome at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

No Stopping Microsoft File Standard
This spring, Microsoft's Office Open XML file format was approved as an ISO standard. But not all were pleased. Several countries -- Venezuela, Brazil, India and South Africa -- all objected and filed appeals. Now an ISO document has emerged that points to those appeals falling on deaf (or at least disinterested) ears.

When it comes to standards, Microsoft is darned if it does, and danged is it doesn't. For years Microsoft has been bashed for not doing enough to support existing standards, and even less to offer its own technologies to standards bodies. So when Microsoft offers its Office file formats, the critics complain that the process was flawed. I'm glad to that ISO appears to be making the right choice here.

What would you want to see done with the file format? Is Microsoft doing a good job supporting standards? Shoot your ideas to me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Doug's Maibag: Windows and Vista 7, Greene and VMware, Microsoft and Yahoo
Several readers recently wrote in to share their reaction to Microsoft's decision to base Windows 7 on Vista, with some saying the press is to blame for Vista's bad reputation:

Microsoft making a big announcement that 'Windows 7 is based on Vista so 
you might as well upgrade to Vista now' is going to backfire on them, I 
think. I have been amazed at how many of my clients are adamant about not using 
Vista. They are willing to pay me a good chunk of money to wipe Vista 
off their new laptops and install XP. Most of them have me build their 
desktop computers, and not once has anyone requested Vista. In fact, one 
of the reasons they give for having me build a machine for them at 
higher cost than Dell, etc., is they can get XP.

I have told them that XP is becoming more and more difficult for me to 
buy and they have responded by having me investigate both Mac and Linux 
as alternatives.

Vista was 
way late and many of the great features were stripped in order to 
finally ship it. It was so slow and riddled with bugs and 
incompatibilities that it got extremely bad press. At the same time, 
Linux was making huge strides in compatibility, ease of use, etc., with 
Ubuntu, etc. A couple years ago, Linux wasn't in a place to compete at 
any level with Windows, but now it is much further along.
- Matt

Over the last months I have read several news reports saying that Windows 7 will address the 'bloatware' that Vista has become by being more of a thin client that can be readily expanded. Now Veghte is saying it will be built on Vista? Did those reporters fall for more obfuscation?

As the world swings toward making more use of laptops and notebooks, Microsoft must understand that these devices are NOT readily upgradeable to have terabytes of RAM once Windows 7 releases. I have an old Dell Latitude at home I'm not throwing away just because it can't support Vista -- I'm moving to Ubuntu.
- Ian

I was hoping the fat client would go away in favor of something like the 2008 Server Core installation. I was even hoping for application encapsulation. After all if we can virtualize applications for the desktop why not make them that way from the beginning.

I would also like to see a Windows 7 Core loaded on a Boot ROM. That ought to get some people excited.
- Bill

I just don't get all the fuss over Vista. I have been running Vista Ultimate for over 1 year now, and have only had a handful of crashes, all while playing Company of Heroes (which crashed at the same rate on XP). I know that some people have compatibility problems with old hardware, but the number of consumers who have upgraded their OS with retail Vista (which costs nearly as much as a new machine would) and have incompatible hardware has to be pretty small. Most of these problems could probably be resolved with a small purchase of new hardware (though this is probably beyond those users' knowledge).

Also, are you aware that performance tests show Vista SP1 to be similar to or faster than XP SP3 on nearly every measure (make sure you turn off the ancillary services that suck up CPU on Vista but are irrelevant to real-world performance, like file indexing)?

While Vista is not a perfect operating system, it is far superior to XP in my experience and I would never switch back... Maybe my experience isn't typical, but it sure is night and day from the complaints I see all over the web - most of which are from writers and not users.
- Ryan

I just wanted to rebuff your report of Vista "bluescreens and doggish performance." I have been using Vista since it was launched. I have many friends, family members and customers who are using Vista and do not experience any "bluescreens and doggish performance." Of course all of them are running Vista on new computers with enough horsepower to run Vista. I keep hearing reporters and others say bad things about Vista but when I actually start to question them it is all hearsay and no actual bad experience on their part.

Many of my friends and customers were hesitant to switch to Vista because of the bad press. However, once they did, they have been very happy with the features and performance.
- Stephen

Another big story last week was Diane Greene's departure from the company she and her husband cofounded, VMware. Here are your letters:

The rift with EMC and VMware concerns me immensely. I do have genuine concerns regarding EMC's product direction and how this decision...will affect the independent development of the VMware products and ultimately the relationship with Microsoft.
- Vern

Remember that EMC does not own ALL of VMware -- they only purchased 85 percent. That still leaves 15 percent, I am assuming to the founders, Diane Greene and her husband Mendel Rosenblum. I think after the $624 million they got for the stock from EMC, she is going to be OK.

What I would like to know is, what kind of severance is she getting to walk away quietly? That has got to be a rather large number. Can you do some digging to find out what that number is? [ED. NOTE: Great suggestion -- we'll do that].
- Steve

With the Microsoft-Yahoo saga continuing over the weekend, Doug asked your opinions on whether Microsoft should even be interested in the company. Here's what some of you had to say:

Simple answer: NO!
- Sarbjit

It makes no sense at all -- you have an open source culture in one company and one of the most proprietary cultures in another.

Also, the DOJ should can this deal as being bad for consumers -- one less chat system out there. For as bad as "yahell" is claimed to be, they have features no one else has. They just don't leverage it via advertising very well. Then you also have overlap in the online ad industry.

This should not be allowed -- period.
- Bruce

When I bought my 100 shares of Yahoo, five to six years ago, and saw it split 2 for 1 a year or so later. I thought I had boarded the gravy train. I've seen nothing since. So what have I got to look forward to? Maybe it would be nice to exchange my Yahoo for Microsoft. I'd be willing if they offered -- just to have something different now.
- Steven

Be sure to share your take on this edition of Redmond Report by posting your thoughts below.

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