SQL Server 2008 to be delayed anyway despite February launch

In a bizarre and embarrassing development at the same time, Microsoft's server and tools division found itself announcing a delay for the RTM of SQL Server 2008 of up to six months. Despite that, its launch party will go on.

BetaNews had just gotten through saying Microsoft cannot afford another delay, now that its combination launch gala for Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008, and SQL Server 2008 is set for February 27. But just a few hours later, one of its product managers found himself explaining why his product will be a no-show.

"One of the top areas of focus for us is always to deliver a high quality product, and in a very predictable manner," wrote Francois Ajenstat, SQL Server's director of product management, in a blog post this afternoon. "This is vital for our customers and partners - which is why we've frequently discussed our goal of releasing SQL Server 2008 within 24-36 months after SQL Server 2005. We are on track to reach this goal."

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And for those of you keeping score at home, yes, Ajenstat did use the Microsoft code-word "on track" to preface the change in schedule. Now, the company is planning to issue a new release candidate for the next SQL Server in the second quarter of this year, with release to manufacturing now slated for the third quarter. No specific reason was given for the delay, other than the company's wish to produce a product that performs up to customer expectations.

The news must come as a shock even to some inside the company, including one who confirmed the February RTM schedule for SQL Server to BetaNews just yesterday.

Despite even this news, the show must go on, as they say. The February launch event, still entitled "Heroes Happen Here," will feature two of its three scheduled stars...at least for now. In place of the third, Microsoft will be handing out a fresh community technology preview of SQL Server -- not a beta, by the company's current standards, but not a release candidate either.

"This does not in any way change our plans for the February 27 launch," Ajenstat wrote, "and we look forward to seeing many of you in Los Angeles and other events around the world."

One strange side-effect of this delay may be to prolong the lifespan yet again of another Microsoft product: The database manager FoxPro, one of Microsoft's early acquisitions and its first entry in the professional RDBMS space, is actually still being produced though not actively marketed. The company's itinerary for helping existing FoxPro customers to finally migrate to SQL Server and .NET, so that it can finally take FoxPro off life support, had only just been announced this morning.

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