There was a lot of energy and excitement as Microsoft kicked off the launch of SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio 2005, and BizTalk 2006.

The event was built around a day of educational sessions for developers and DBAs.  It all started off to loud rock-n-roll music courtesy of Cheap Trick,  (They were also the evening entertainment at the evening party), which led into a rousing introductory speech by CEO Steve Balmer.  Steve's presentation was quite interesting and included things like the expected new benchmarks for performance, price, and speed of the new products. 

However, the most interesting thing about the presentation, in my opinion, was the amount of resources (called add-ins) that are now available for Visual Studio 2005 Express and SQL Server 2005 Express.  As previously announced, these products are FREE.  Once I saw a full demo of the capabilities of these products, I got the potential full effect of these products on the market place.

What full effects?  Well, you might remember when Bill Gates stood up at TechEd back in the mid-90's and declared that Microsoft would become the pre-eminent Internet company.  A lot of people were skeptical because of Netscape's ascendency at the time.  Well, today's Express products are essentially declaring that they will become the pre-eminent free web development and database products on the Internet.  LAMP beware!  (LAMP is an acronym for Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP, the current no-cost web development and database stack of choice.)

The event had a great tradeshow floor with many of the SQL Server community's top vendors present such as my employer (Quest Software), Idera, Lumigent, etc.  And of course, I had to spend time with my crew at the booth for the Professional Association for SQL Server (www.sqlpass.org).

More to come!

-Kev