Microsoft is being notably coy about the next version of SQL Server, code-named Katmai. At the launch of SQL Server 2005,when I interviewed Paul Flessner (then-VP of the Microsoft division responsible for SQL Server), he was adamant that the next release would happen no more than two years after SQL Server 2005’s launch. Well, here we are in 2007, and we haven’t heard any news of impending availability of test versions of Katmai.

The closest thing to news about Katmai becoming a reality has been Mary Jo Foley’s April 10 blog entry about an Austrian TechNet blog (which has now been removed). This Austrian entry apparently mentioned the start of nominations for the Katmai Technology Adoption Program (TAP). Mary Jo gleaned that, “The Katmai TAP tests \[will\] commence in June 2007. All testing will be done in secret.” Mary Jo noted that Steven Bink of bink.nu has reported that Katmai will be released in 2008, and she could not get Microsoft to confirm or deny it.

            A couple weeks ago, I independently heard from more than two different sources that Katmai would release with Longhorn Server and Visual Studio Orcas, which would place the Katmai release in the first half of 2008. When I asked for an official Microsoft comment about that rumor, I was told that they weren’t talking about Katmai at present.

            I just learned that the 2008 rumors are in line with Microsoft’s current thinking. I learned that the Katmai release was being created under a radically new engineering process and that it would not be unreasonable to speculate that Katmai would release in early 2008. However, levels of enthusiasm about the new engineering process and faith in its efficiency vary, depending on where in the organization’s hierarchy the judgment is coming from.

            Katmai will not have any official beta release process. Instead, public testing will be only through a Community Technology Preview (CTP) program. Indeed, some Microsoft customers are apparently now testing some Katmai feature sets, although this testing seems to be happening in isolation from any overall Katmai build.

            Not surprisingly, the Katmai release will not be as big a release as SQL Server 2005. Rather, the comparison between Katmai and SQL Server 2005 will be more like the comparison between SQL Server 2000 and SQL Server 7.0.

Visual Studio Orcas Beta 1

While Microsoft is being very quiet about Katmai, the company is widely announcing the release of beta 1 of the new version of Visual Studio, code-named Orcas, and the .NET Framework 3.5. The Orcas release is aimed at encouraging developers to create applications and services for the latest generation of products: Windows Vista, the 2007 Office System, and Windows Server Longhorn, as well as for the Web.

            With Orcas, come more than 200 new features, including features that will be of particular interest to SQL Server professionals. New features for Language Integrated Query (LINQ—for more on LINQ, click here.) and ADO.NET, designed to “help developers be more productive in creating data-driven software,” might indicate a relationship with some of the work that’s being done in Katmai. Likewise, with the .NET Framework 3.5, Microsoft is touting enhanced capabilities and increased performance, including deep integration of LINQ.

            For more information about Orcas, click here.  For more about the .NET Framework 3.5, click here.