Yesterday, Microsoft shipped the second beta release of Visual Studio 2005 and the .NET Framework 2.0 (both codenamed Whidbey), along with the SQL Server 2005 April Community Technology Preview (CTP), another pre-release version of the company's upcoming database server. Continually delayed, these products are now expected in the second half of 2005.

"Delivering Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2 and the SQL Server 2005 April CTP to customers is a milestone because it indicates that we have entered the final stages of the development cycle for both products," says Microsoft senior vice president of Servers and Tools Eric Rudder. "When we set out to develop these products, we envisioned building a solution that offered unprecedented integration between development and the database to help our customers be more productive. With these releases, we have delivered on that promise and expect to drastically change the way our customers develop and utilize their applications."

With the Beta 2 release of the .NET Framework 2.0, Microsoft is issuing customers a Go-Live license that will allow them to ship code based on the beta in production products. This license applies to solutions that were created with pre-release versions of ASP .NET 2.0, Windows Forms, Visual Studio Tools for Office, and .NET Compact Framework.

Microsoft says that the SQL Server 2005 April CTP release is feature-complete. The company is deploying that release of SQL Server 2005 internally and says that it has over 65 SQL Server 2005-based applications in production today. Microsoft has a strong tradition of using its pre-release products in house, a process it calls "dog-fooding" the releases.

Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2 is available for public download from the Microsoft Web site. The SQL Server 2005 April CTP is available today to beta testers and to MSDN Universal, Enterprise and Professional subscribers.