Microsoft UK launch event - 15th November, London

Another polished event from Microsoft to support the launch of SQL Server 2005, VS.NET 2005 and BizTalk Server 2006.  I attended the second day (in Hammersmith, London) which according to the speakers appeared to have more technically orientated delegates than the first day.  Although I was only registered for the main 'technical track' due to my late registration, I managed to switch three of the four slots to Chalk 'n' Talk (Deep Dive) sessions.  These were in much smaller rooms, with a higher technical content and real world experience. In fact, all the Chalk 'n' Talk sessions I went to had at least one Microsoft speaker accompanied by a non Microsoft expert, which worked really well.

Here are my highlights:

Hands on lab - great idea, although the hardware was a bit slow for running the Virtual PC image of Windows Server 2003.  Still, it did allow you to do ‘real’ coding of  the launch products.  I was told that these hands on labs will be available for download in the next few weeks.

Session 1 (Technical track): A mis-titled session IMHO, which was all about BizTalk Server 2006.  Not having any BizTalk experience myself it was a bit dull and unexciting.

Session 2, Mobile 5.0: Great overview of Mobile 5.0 from Jonathan Greensted and Marcus Perryman.  There was an SMS lottery demo, written on the fly, with a live i-Mate JasJar (HTC Universal) receiving SMS messages from the audience, and then initiating a voice call to the winner.

Session 3, Reporting Services: The new Report Builder sounds like we finally have a proper end user tool for creating ad-hoc reports – could this finally be the end of Microsoft Access for ad hoc reporting? 

Also, SQL Server Express is meant to include a version of reporting services although sadly, Report Builder is one of the items not included in that version.  Previously, reporting services could not be used with a pure MSDE solution due to licensing restrictions.

Session 4, Team System: Benjamin Mitchell in usual good form chaired a Q+A session with some members of the Microsoft team behind Team System. 

The attempt to explain the pricing and various marketing terms used to describe the various flavours of Team System and how it affects MSDN subscriptions nearly had me in hysterics.  I can see the hand of the Marketing department in this one, spawning a bizarre range of product names and bundles.  I still believe this will need simplifying in the long run.

The good news for small developer houses is that if you have an MSDN subscription to one of the Team System editions, you will get access to a version of Team Foundation Server. There will be a limit of 5 connections, but it will run a ‘proper’ version of SQL Server 2005 to by used by TFS only (‘proper’ means not SQL Server Express).  You’ll still need a Windows Server 2003 box on which to host TFS, but at least small teams, especially single programmers, can now think about using TFS without worrying about the cost.

It’s this final news about small teams which means I’ll be exploring the options in TFS over the coming months.  My version control had already moved away from SourceSafe to SubVersion, and I use NUnit for unit testing as well as FxCop for basic code analysis.  However, it will be interesting to see how all these areas of development, testing and project management become centralised in TFS into a continuous process.

Print | posted on Wednesday, November 16, 2005 9:38 AM

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