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Microsoft is positioning planned "express" editions of its next developer tools suite and database as "lightweight" alternatives to the open source LAMP stack.

Martin Taylor, Microsoft's platform strategy general manager, told The Register SQL Server 2005 Express would allow tables and files to be stored on a web page to increase a site's functionality while simplified programming would be provided in Visual Studio 2005.

"We will have LAMP-like capability to quickly build a web site," Taylor claimed. Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 are now due to launch on November 7.

LAMP, or Linux, Apache, MySQL and Perl/Python/PHP, is the operating system, web server, database and scripting language stack being talked about and picked-up by start-ups interested in building services on top of open source.

LAMP provides a viable stack for a growing number of small, medium and large business software projects, while SpikeSource and SourceLabs are building services that test and certify the modular components of the LAMP stack.

For Taylor, though, that modularity is LAMP's weakness compared to Microsoft's planned offerings. "That's one of the inherent challenges of open source - it's modular by design. It's not build by design, so that has challenges around it," Taylor said.

Taylor singled-out support for development using Secure Sockets as one area where LAMP tools and runtimes are weak and that Microsoft had solved.

Microsoft, Taylor said, "understood the web by default", and the new database and tools would help reduce the number of lines of code needed to develop web sites while also allowing developers to test lines of code without booting-up a browser.

Microsoft also plans to challenge LAMP on price, with Taylor claiming the tools would be "free of damn near free."

Microsoft in March said it planned to charge $49 for copies of Visual Studio 2005 Express, adding, though, it may give the products away as part of a promotional offer. Visual Studio 2005 Express is currently available in Beta with versions for web, Windows, C#, C++, J++ and SQL Server developers. SQL Server Express, meanwhile, will be available for free and run on a machine with a single CPU and feature report and control wizards.

Separately, Microsoft has rejected calls from Visual Studio 2005 testers for a third Beta of the integrated development environment (IDE) amid claims that solutions to bugs and performance issues are postponed to hit November's delivery. A posting on the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) said a third Beta should be released next month, followed by release to manufacturing (RTM) in 2006.

In a response on MSDN, though, Microsoft said it was working hard to get rid of bugs and was confident it could deliver a "high-quality product" later this year.®

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