Can you feel it? I feel like I'm on gasoline alley on NACAR race day and the excitement is building to a fever pitch. We have just over 6 weeks until the triple launch of SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio 2005, and BizTalk 2006. The Microsoft Launch Tour 2005 in San Francisco starts November 7 and doesn't wrap up until January 11, 2006, in Washington, DC ( http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=146FA:285886 ). The excitement surrounding these product launches is fueled by a long list of special events during the usual fall conference season. But this year's conferences aren't usual at all; they feature focused new content fortified by code-complete betas and a stable product release date.

On the US scene, we've just finished the informal kickoff event of the fall conference season: Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference (PDC). Next week, September 27-30 many SQL Server professionals will head to Grapevine, Texas, (near Dallas) to what might be the largest-ever Professional Association of SQL Server (PASS) Community Summit event ( http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=14701:285886 ). PASS will be followed by VSLive in Orlando October 9-13 ( http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=14700:285886 ). And there's sure to be a great party atmosphere during launch week at the SQL Server Magazine Connections conference in Las Vegas, November 7-10 ( http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=14705:285886 ).

Launch Week will just be the start of many Microsoft and non-Microsoft events. Personally, I'll be spending November 13-17 presenting at Microsoft Israel's SQL Week in Tel Aviv, which promises to be a great event, largely orchestrated by SQL Server Magazine contributing editor Itzik Ben-Gan ( http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=146FD:285886 ). In addition to the already cluttered conference schedule, you can find a number of special events, such as the four remaining (two US, two abroad) rigorous "Getting Ready for SQL Server 2005 Road Show" tours ( http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=14706:285886 ).

But what is the point of this barrage of conference and event information? Well, two things: First, the world is excited, and second, Microsoft is going to do what it takes to get you using its newest product releases.

Customers have shown A LOT of interest in SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio 2005, and BizTalk 2006. And customers are ready to learn about the products' new features because they're already making business decisions that will require getting the most out of those products. Microsoft has encouraged all this pre-planning because it can't afford low or slow adoption. The company has made large investments in these products and must do whatever it takes to get the world using them sooner rather than later. This is the reason for the huge number of conferences, one-day events, and Webcasts that Microsoft has been funding--and the stellar quality of speakers Microsoft has been staffing conferences with for the last calendar year. Microsoft realizes that the more IT professionals know about the new products, the better the chances are that the world will use them immediately. Otherwise, sales will flounder, and Microsoft's return on investment will be a long road.

What this means for the average SQL Server, Visual Studio, and BizTalk customer is that the opportunity for high-quality, forward-thinking education about these products has never been better. So if you haven't been able to get your boss to let you go to a fall conference, make sure to schedule a one-day special event and immediately start petitioning for a spring conference. And in the meantime, don't sit dormant! There are tons of quality on-demand webcasts at Windows IT Pro Magazine ( http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=146F7:285886 ) and Microsoft ( http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=146FF:285886 ).