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They've been a longtime coming, but Microsoft's next database and developer tools have entered the final straight with code released to manufacturing.

Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 have been posted to Microsoft's Developer Network (MSDN) with code due to become generally available at a November 7 launch event in San Francisco, presided over by Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer.

Also released on Thursday was the next edition of Microsoft's BizTalk Server - BizTalk Sever 2006.

Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 are more than a year late and have been delayed up to three times. Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 were last year pegged for delivery in the first half of 2005, having been pushed back from the second half of 2004 and "by the end" of 2004, respectively. SQL Server has suffered the biggest delays, being originally due in the summer 2003.

Delays to Visual Studio 2005 have been attributed to security improvements in SQL Server and the complexity of combining Microsoft's integrated development environment (IDE) with its database for the first time.

Microsoft's Common Language Runtime (CLR) has been built in to the database engine making Visual Studio 2005 the programming environment for SQL Server. Visual Studio developers can now build database applications using Visual Studio tools and languages like Visual C#.NET, instead of T-SQL.

Final release is long overdue. While Microsoft has tried to keep developers fresh by handing out snap-shots of Windows code released as Community Technology Previews, or CTPs, instead of final product code, it's been five years since SQL Server users have had a completely new product to use. Rivals IBM and Oracle, meanwhile, have released completely new versions of their products during that time.®

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