As one of about 15,000 attendees of Tech Ed '99 in Dallas this spring, I heard a lot of talk about predicted industry trends and the direction of some important Microsoft products. I heard several interesting rumors. Like most rumors, some are totally off base, and others are based in fact. Although I don't speak for Microsoft, I can tell you what I think is behind some of the talk that's going around.
Rumor 1. Microsoft will include the SQL Server engine in the Platinum release of Exchange Server. Considering the seemingly ubiquitous nature of SQL Server 7.0, I can see how this rumor started. It makes a lot of sense. After all, the SQL Server engine is assuming the position of Microsoft's standard database engine. But this rumor is probably off base. The Microsoft Exchange team was busy enough integrating Exchange and Windows 2000 Active Directory. SQL Server integration with Exchange will likely be part of the following release.
Rumor 2. Microsoft is porting SQL Server to Linux. Don't hold your breath. Considering its roots, SQL Server is one of the more portable pieces of code in the BackOffice suite. However, I don't see a demand for SQL Server on Linux. If Microsoft tackled this integration, the company would use resources that I'm sure it needs for the Windows 2000 integration.
Rumor 3. Microsoft intends to open the Windows NT source code. The same people who came up with Rumor 2 probably started this one. Microsoft would lose much more than it would gain by letting students and industry professionals peek at NT's inner workings. Managing Windows 2000 development within Microsoft itself is probably challenging enough for the company. I don't think Microsoft wants or needs the open-source headache.
Rumor 4. The Microsoft Data Engine (MSDE) is available on the Web. This rumor is true. MSDE is the standalone SQL Server database engine that's positioned as an alternative to Jet. Microsoft Office 2000 Developer's Kit owners have access to MSDE, and now Visual Studio 6.0 license holders can also download it. You can get MSDE on the Web at http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/msde. The downloaded .cab files are about 20MB, and they expand to about 40MB of runtime files.
Rumor 5. Microsoft has plans for a new release of SQL Server. Microsoft employees have confirmed in various public presentations that a new SQL Server release, code-named Shiloh, is coming. Shiloh will include support for 64-bit Windows and Active Directory, improved support for Extensible Markup Language (XML), and support for data mining—not to mention materialized views, no doubt to enable SQL Server to better compete with Oracle in those Transaction Processing Council TPC-D benchmark wars.