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6/3/2008
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Microsoft Readies Silverlight, Oslo, IBM Partnership At TechEd

Bill Gates will also speak to software developers in one of his final public addresses before he moves next month to a part-time role with the company.

Microsoft will kick off its annual TechEd conference Tuesday with a deluge of new products and product updates for developers. Another highlight will be when chairman Bill Gates takes the stage to speak to software developers in one of his final public addresses before he moves next month to a part time role with the company he co-founded more than 30 years ago.

The company will introduce a new test version of the next generation of the company's new Silverlight rich Web app browser plug-in, lay out product plans for its Oslo modeling and software oriented architecture vision, and roll out a new partnership with IBM.

The final version of Silverlight 2.0, which will largely compete with Adobe Flash, isn't due until later this year. But interest has been high enough that Microsoft has introduced a "Go Live" license for it, which means that Microsoft will now fully support Silverlight apps. NBC will roll out a vast Silverlight-based Olympics Web site before the plug-in's final release, according to Microsoft.

Silverlight 2.0's main draw is that it allows .Net developers to write Web applications using their .Net skills. But the new beta also adds support for high definition video, new controls for developers, support for Microsoft's Language Integrated Query for data intensive development, programmable Web services capabilities, and cross-domain networking support for businesses that might want to deploy Silverlight applications internally.

Microsoft plans to release new test versions of its Expression Blend user interface design software and a Silverlight development plug-in for Visual Studio 2008. A second test version of Internet Explorer 8 is due in August, and the final release of Microsoft's Sync Framework (plus a beta of a mobile version) is due in the third quarter. The Sync Framework allows developers to create Web applications that can allow for offline data access or synchronize data across multiple locations.

The company also plans to lay out more details on Oslo, a SOA and modeling vision Microsoft first outlined last year. According to Jonathan Perera, general manager of Microsoft's application platform division, the product elements of Oslo -- metadata repositories, development tools, and a declarative modeling language -- will ship in upcoming versions of Visual Studio, SQL Server, BizTalk and .Net. More than 100 customers are already providing product input and testing some of the earliest elements.

Perera likens the repositories to a searchable Yellow Pages of modeling information. Among the tools Microsoft will make available will be one that gives a software architect the ability to create a picture of how the software should act and what the communication infrastructure should look like, and another that could allow CFOs to create a model for how an expense report should work that could map to a developer schema. Software like this could push development in a more collaborative direction, and eventually give non-developers a larger role in the creation of software.

"As much as we wanted to move to expand our focus to the entire software development team, we have an opportunity to move that one more level up," S. Somasegar, VP of Microsoft's developer division, said in a recent interview.

Microsoft will announce a new partnership with IBM to allow businesses to integrate IBM DB2 database access into the Visual Studio Team System Database Edition. The new plug-in will automatically provide developers with database schema rather than forcing them to manually code the schemas or first code for DB2 access from within another development tool.

The company will also announce Project Velocity, an early test version of a distributed in-memory application cache that allows developers to take advantage of scalability in their applications by storing large amounts of data in quickly accessed memory rather than in slow and rarely accessed databases. Velocity will eventually be wrapped into a future version of the .Net Framework and ASP.Net.

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