The keynote kicking off the second week of Microsoft's annual Tech-Ed conference this week for IT professionals -- didn't have Bill Gates. That was last week, when Gates gave his goodbye speech to third party developers.
What Tuesday's speech did have, though, were several important product updates. Top of the list: SQL Server 2008, which has finally reached the "release candidate" (RC) stage, the last step in testing before a product is "released to manufacturing."
In his keynote at the 16th Tech-Ed in Orlando, Fla., Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Server and Tools business, said the releases help mark the company's progress on its "Dynamic IT" initiative. Practicing Dynamic IT "converts IT from a business expense to a business asset and shifts the IT focus from activities that just keep datacenters running to those that can result in strategic advantages," according to a company statement.
Tech-Ed 2008 comes at a time when Microsoft is close to delivering key parts of its vision of IT in a changing world particularly SQL Server 2008 and the company's server virtualization engine, known as "Hyper-V." Both are due in the third quarter.
Among the other announcements Muglia made during the event: Beta 3 of Identity Lifecycle Manager "2" has begun; the company plans to deliver RC1 of Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5 later this month.
"As far as Dynamic IT [goes], a lot of progress has happened in the last five years, but another five years of work is needed," Muglia said.
The annual event has become so popular that this year the company had to split it into two separate weeks of sessions and keynotes one for developers, which was held last week, and this week's event for IT professionals.
Release of the first RC of SQL Server 2008 referred to as "RC0" may mean that the product will arrive a little earlier than most recently promised target of before the end of the third quarter given that the first RC, as it's called, is debuting in June.
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