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Happy 2006! Hope You're Well Rested

Happy New Year! Had a good few days off? Let's hope, because the life of a Microsoft partner is going to be insanely busy in 2006.

To be successful with Microsoft, partners need to be attuned to what Microsoft is focused on: products. The partners that Microsoft rewards are the ones who are talking up -- and more importantly, selling -- Microsoft's latest technologies.

Barring catastrophic developments, 2006 is going to be Microsoft's busiest shipping year in a while. Opportunities already abound in several new products just barely out the door: SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio 2005 and Windows Server 2003 R2.

Even so, the product pipeline is full. Dominating Microsoft's schedule for 2006 are updates to the company's most important products from a revenue standpoint. The Windows client will get an update late in the second half with Windows Vista, and a near simultaneous update is coming for Office in Office 12. These are the huge updates that will require monumental preparations from ISVs, resellers and service providers.

Meanwhile, those of you focusing on small business have an R2 version of Windows Small Business Server coming out in a few months. The integration-focused among you can look forward to a new version of Microsoft BizTalk Server 2006, code-named "Pathfinder." More Microsoft Dynamics products are on tap, including a new version of Axapta, now dubbed Microsoft Dynamics AX. Even a new version of Internet Explorer 7.0 for Windows XP Service Pack 2 is coming, supposedly months ahead of Vista, which will have its own overhaul of IE.

In the meantime, new betas should shed light on changes coming in Windows Longhorn Server, planned for a 2007 release. Meanwhile, aspects of the Microsoft software value proposition will change dramatically in March when most of the changes in Software Assurance 2.0 kick in.

We'll be around all year to help you stay on top of the technologies that Microsoft will ship in 2006, and the opportunities those products open up.

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This column was originally published in our weekly Redmond Partner Update newsletter. To subscribe, click here.

More Serious Security Issues
Even as Microsoft gets ready to roll out sparkling new products in 2006, the year is starting out with a focus on security problems in the current products. Yet another of the frightening zero-day exploits emerged over the holidays. This one affected even versions of Windows XP loaded with Service Pack 2 and fully patched. Microsoft is furiously testing a patch, which could come out ahead of the next monthly Patch Tuesday, which arrives next week.

Every time we ask, you cite security as one of the top complaints you hear back from your customers about Microsoft products. We've written about how, in many cases, those concerns are outdated. Flaws like this, where even the most fully patched system is open to a vulnerability that's already being exploited by malware, certainly won't help. Let's hope this isn't a harbinger of the way 2006 is going to turn out.

Check out Mike Desmond's coverage of the flaw here.

Python for .NET Takes Shape
A beta is out for Microsoft's open source release of a version of the Python scripting language that works inside .NET. Called IronPython, Microsoft acquired the project when it hired Jim Hugunin in 2005. Find out if you should be playing with this beta here.

Posted by Scott Bekker on January 04, 2006 at 11:53 AM


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