TechEd 2003 attendees witnessed a rare admission during Microsoft Senior Vice President Paul Flessner's keynote address: Microsoft is delaying the next version of SQL Server (code-named Yukon) from the first half of 2004 to the second half of 2004. Flessner said both the public beta and the final release are being delayed: "We've pushed Yukon back a bit," he said. "There will be a public beta, as we had originally announced, that will come on this summer. You'll see a public beta, and originally we said we'd ship in the first half of calendar year 2004. We are pushing that back into the second half of calendar year 2004, not driven by anything specifically; we just want to get the QA cycle right and more work around embedding the Common Language Runtime, which we're super excited about, as I hope all of you are."<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Why is this comment notable? Typically, Microsoft doesn't make public promises about release dates so that the company can later claim ignorance about delays. ("We only ship products when they're ready" is the usual PR spin.) But having a major-league Microsoft executive actually admit to a delay is unprecedented. Yukon is important for several reasons: The product is a major platform that will be accompanied by a new Visual Studio (VS) release, and its new data store will form the basis for the Longhorn WinFS file system extension, the Blackcomb AD, the Exchange Server Kodiak release, and various other storage-related products coming down the road. So this product truly is one that Microsoft should delay until the company gets it right. My guess is that Yukon will ship simultaneously with Longhorn--in 2006.