It was supposed to be different. A few years back, Microsoft laid out a roadmap which included various product "waves," generations of products that were linked technologically. After the company shipped Windows XP, executives from Microsoft projected that the next product waved, called Yukon, would encompass a major new upgrade to SQL Server (itself codenamed "Yukon") and a new generation of developer products, including updates to Visual Studio and the .NET Framework (both codenamed "Whidbey"). At the time, the Yukon wave was primarily notable for the SQL Server technology that would serve as the foundation for the WinFS storage engine. It would be followed by the Longhorn wave, which as we all know, would have included a major new Windows version (now called Windows Vista), a major Windows Server upgrade (still known as Longhorn Server), and another round of Visual Studio and .NET Framework upgrades (both codenamed Orcas).

All of these products are still happening, but the timelines have been moved around a bit. Now, SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005--as the two major Yukon-era products are called--will ship much more closely to Windows Vista than originally planned. WinFS, once seen as the cornerstone technology that would link the Yukon and Longhorn waves, has been unceremoniously delayed to a vague post-Longhorn future and it's now unclear how WinFS will ship to customers. And of course the problems with Windows Vista are both infamous and legion, though Microsoft appears to be getting a handle on that now.

What we're left with is the launch of the Yukon wave, and though things have indeed changed, both Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 are indeed major releases, offering major advantages over previous versions and serious incentives for existing customers to upgrade. In this showcase, I'll examine the often confusing array of editions that each product offers, and the new features that characterize both. Though these products are both shipping considerably later than originally planned, I think you'll agree that the wait was worth it.

On to Part 1: Visual Studio 2005
On to Part 2: SQL Server 2005 (Coming soon)