Mark your calendars for February 27, 2008. There's going to be a party and you're invited to celebrate the release of three of Microsoft's most beautiful debutantes. Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008, and SQL Server 2008 will be launched together at an event in Los Angeles on February 27, 2008. It's likely to be the event of the season for Microsoft fashionistas and socialites. I can't promise a visit from Paris Hilton, but Microsoft is prebilling this event as "the most important launch in company history," so I suspect that the company will be pulling out all the stops to ensure a very high-profile launch with massive amounts of marketing and technological evangelism for the three products being launched.Don't get your hopes up too much. Sure, the big party for SQL Server 2008 will be in February 2008. The invitations are already in the mail, so to speak. The show must go on and neither rain nor snow nor gloom of night will keep Microsoft from having this bash. But that doesn't mean that SQL Server 2008 will actually be available at the time of the launch party. Microsoft is sticking to its Tech Ed guidance that SQL Server 2008 will ship in 2008, which means that SQL Server 2008 could actually be released to manufacturing many months after its coming out gala. SQL Server 2008 might be a beauty, but its launch party could be a flirty tease. At this point, you might be thinking "you've got to be joking, how could the preannouncement for a party that won't happen for almost eight months to celebrate a product that might ship many months later be news?" Well, it's the dead of summer and I still have a weekly deadline. But seriously, this event is bigger than it might otherwise seem to the Microsoft uninitiated who don't make a living following the news from Redmond. Follow the money. That's an often-used line and it's good advice in many professional settings. The launch event scheduled for February 2008 won't really be a single event. Think back to the launch of SQL Server 2005. Microsoft had the "big party" in Los Angeles, but dozens of similar events were held in major cities around the world leading up to--and after--the major launch event. Microsoft spends a considerable amount of money planning and executing these launch events, and I take Microsoft at its word when it says that this launch is perhaps the most important launch in the company's history. Many of the people who read this newsletter are part of Microsoft's partner community in some way. Corporate customers might not care too much about the hype leading up to these launch events; however, everyone in Microsoft's partner ecosystem should be paying close attention when Microsoft launches its flagship enterprise-class OS, development platform, and database system at the same time. Microsoft's partners stand to make a tremendous amount of money by ensuring that their products and services are aligned with the launch needs of Microsoft. And although Microsoft's corporate customers might think they don't care about the preparty hype, they will certainly be affected by the massive marketing and evangelism efforts that Microsoft, and its partner community, will be hurling at customers to ensure that everyone is ready, willing, and able to open up their checkbooks and upgrade in a timely manner. Let the festivities begin!