The Channel

Experience overcomes Microsoft's broken promises

People-unready database ready

Project Watch: Microsoft 2008 Before we go on, let's just talk briefly, in a quiet voice, about the delay to SQL Server 2008.

The major issue here is that whilst Microsoft conveniently forgets the past, most of us can still remember SQL Server 2003, er...2004, oh, actually, that was eventually 2005. So Microsoft is turning into a serial offender when it comes to slippage.

Let me quote from an article I wrote in May 2007, just after SQL Server 2008 was announced.

"I talked to Francois Ajenstat, group product manager for SQL Server. He is adamant that Microsoft has learnt from the mistakes of the past and there is an absolute commitment to release Katmai [the code name of SQL Server 2008] on time. And I for one am convinced he's right; I never doubted the commitment back in 2003, or 2004, or even 2005. Commitment is easy, it's the delivery that is traditionally challenging."

Now, in 2008, Microsoft is back-pedaling and the release date is slipping. Again. So Microsoft hasn't learned anything. Again. And the commitment has vanished. Again. But next time the big M will tell us: "We've learnt from the past, it won't happen again. You can trust us."

So does this mean that SQL Server 2008 has suddenly become a rubbish product? Of course not. This isn't about functionality, the product still has an amazing feature set. This is about trust.

Microsoft seems to be genuinely incapable of understanding that those of us who build applications have real deadlines where slippages actually matter. It is we, not Microsoft, who receive flack when projects fail to go live on schedule.

As it happens, I'm OK. I've learned from the past. I allowed for a great deal of slippage. Why didn't Microsoft? And what about those developers who didn't?

OK, rant over. Back to the project at hand. Why my interest in SQL Server 2008 spatial data? For years now, in our application, we have been collecting data that already contains a spatial element. The problem is that it's in the form of text, such as:

Fownhope, Herefordshire Thirsk, Yorkshire.

We have long needed the capability to examine over time how events spread across the UK and the rest of the world. We have users who need to answer questions like: In this time span, how many events took place within 50 miles of London? How does the mean distance of the events vary over time from, say, Dundee?

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