With Launch Show on Road, Microsoft Seeks Early Adoptors

One week after Microsoft officially launched the 2008 versions of Windows Server, Visual Studio and SQL Server, the company has taken its show on the road.

Microsoft held launch events for the three products in San Antonio and New York yesterday, with plans to hit other cities in the coming weeks and months. While the events lacked the pomp and circumstance of last week's Hollywood gala -- celebrities, top execs and parties -- it made up for it in substance and pragmatism.

"SQL Server, Windows Server and Visual Studio [are] really just the canvas in which you build the solutions that make the difference for IT," said Microsoft Technical Fellow David Campbell in the opening keynote address of the New York launch, which was attended by 2,800 people.

While attendees were clearly interested in Microsoft's next-generation development and IT platform, the general consensus was that -- as with the launch of any new technology -- most will wait for the first service packs to deploy them.

"Microsoft being Microsoft, people will be kind of cautious. Nobody wants to be on that bleeding edge," said Harry Corcell, an account manager at Idera, a Houston-based provider of data management tools. "We're just starting to get people migrating to 2005 and it's been out for a couple of years."

John Wood, vice president of business development at New York-based Derive Technologies, a Microsoft Gold Partner, agreed. "People are a little bit leery because they want to wait for the first service packs to come out before they put it into any type of production," Wood said.

During his keynote, Campbell brought Citigroup IT architect Jim Payne onstage to discuss the potential of Microsoft's new Visual Studio Team Foundation Server. Payne is the vice president and senior lead analyst/architect of Integrated Partner Solutions at Citigroup's Citi Cards unit, which provides credit card distribution services for third-party retailers.

Payne said VSTS could help ease the development process of distributed development teams. While Payne said his goal is to migrate to .NET Framework 3.5, his organization for now maintains a mixture of Visual Basic 6.0 and various earlier iterations of .NET.

With the Citi "Apply & Buy" system, which processes 3 million transactions per day valued at an average of $4,000 per second, the risks of any migration are high. "Obviously, when you have a system like this, you can't radically make changes," Payne said.

Microsoft has said its intent with the multi-city launch events is to get developers and IT pros to test the new offerings.

"Some people are always at the front of the line, others wait to see how the integration goes -- there's always mixed feelings about who's going to first," said Alec Schwartz, a vice president at IT services firm Sogeti USA LLC. "It all depends on the level of risk they are willing to take in integrating the new products."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.