Yukon, Whidbey Releases Pushed to 2005
The Yukon wave of products has been pushed back and will not crest until next year. Microsoft has confirmed that two critical components on its future product roadmap, Whidbey and Yukon, have slipped into the 2005 timeframe.
The delay of Whidbey and Yukon will likely disrupt Redmond's closely tethered portfolio of products. As a result, Microsoft must now change tact and revise the release schedules of some of its principal product lines; giving credence to rumors that its upcoming Longhorn release of Windows may not meet its early 2006 target release date.
Other products possibly affected by the move include "Orcas," code-name for a future release of Visual Studio; Office 12, the Longhorn release of Office; and enterprise server products that rely on Yukon storage technologies and the Whidbey backend for developers.
While customers and ISVs wait out the commotion and uncertainty surrounding Longhorn's release date, service packs and interim releases of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 are expected to fill the void.
As the delays mount, however, customers enrolled in Microsoft's Software Assurance program, which delivers regular code updates at set intervals, must be mindful. The impact of operating systems on the Software Assurance Program has historically been low, as many customers choose not upgrade, but Longhorn will bring a new level of interdependence between products.
"Yukon and Whidbey are rest stops on the road to Longhorn. Microsoft can't realistically begin serious Longhorn testing until both products ship," Jupiter Research senior analyst Joe Wilcox told BetaNews. "At the same time, certain Longhorn technologies must reach a certain level of development before Yukon and Whidbey can ship."
"Customers whose SA contracts for SQL Server or Visual Studio .Net expire next year wouldn't be eligible for upgrades if they came after the contracts expired. Customers would have to renew for the upgrades," said Wilcox.
Tom Rizzo, Microsoft Director of Product Management for SQL Server downplayed the affect Yukon's delay will have on other products, stating that Yukon is only a piece of the overall picture. "These products are not totally interdependent," said Rizzo.
But Jupiter's Wilcox questioned how quickly Microsoft will get Longhorn out the door. "A year ago, some folks laughed at the idea Microsoft would take as long as 2006 to ship Longhorn. Now, 2007 seems almost reasonable. Considering the huge impact Windows XP Service Pack 2 will likely have on existing software and customer behavior, Microsoft and its business customers will have plenty of distraction dealing with the current OS."
The final Yukon release of SQL Server is expected to ship in the first half of 2005 after a third "release candidate quality" beta ships later this year.