LONDON--In a product launch hailed as one of the biggest in the company's history, Microsoft today officially released SQL Server 2005, its first upgrade of the database software in five years.
Also released were Visual Studio 2005, Microsoft's package of tools for software developers; and a new beta version of BizTalk Server 2006, due for formal release next year.
Head-to-Head With Oracle, IBM
Monday's launch in London was attended by many of Microsoft's partners and businesses that are already using some of the software products. It marks a change in the company's image from that of being focused on the desktop and client to one that emphasizes the "richness of capabilities in our enterprise products," says Alistair Baker, managing director of Microsoft Ltd. and vice president of Microsoft Europe, Middle East, and Africa.
Microsoft's update of SQL Server will place it in direct competition with companies such as Oracle and IBM, both strong players in the heated corporate database market. While Microsoft sells more databases than IBM and Oracle combined, Microsoft has acquired only about 20 percent of the revenue in that market because of the "glass ceiling" of capabilities inside of its database, says Andrew Lees, corporate vice president at Microsoft for server and tools marketing.
As a sweetener, Microsoft is offering a 50 percent discount for those businesses that currently use an Oracle database and want to try the enterprise edition of SQL Server 2005, Lees says.
"If you want to migrate your database over to our SQL Server, we don't want that initial cost of a license to be a reason not to move," Lees says. "We believe that we have a comprehensive applications platform, one that a business can trust."
Microsoft is also offering free "express" editions of SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 for download, waiving a $49 fee for those editions during the launch phase of the products. Lees says Microsoft will review demand to see whether the company will reinstate the charge.
"We want to be very broad in terms of what we're doing to help people get into developing and producing solutions," Lees says.
Microsoft will have other offerings, giving out about 190,000 samples of SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio 2005, and BizTalk 2006, at about 300 launch events, Lees says.