Katmai: Ship date or ship-shape?

By now, most of you will have read the news of the delay in releasing SQL Server 2008. It all seems fairly typical Microsoft, though I wouldn’t want to be overly critical, even if the bizarre blog announcement, written in strangled Dalek-speak, was almost beyond parody (although Phil Factor had a good attempt).

In reality, it isn’t a huge delay, and the sense that the product is slipping has probably been exaggerated by the fatuously-entitled ‘Heroes Happen Here‘ launch wave, which attempted to roll three “launches” into one. This meant that the VS2008 launch was too late, the Windows Server 2008 launch was about right, and the SQL Server 2008 launch was much too early.

Compared with the two-year delay to SQL Server 2005, mostly caused by security issues, the current progress seems acceptable. Nobody wants a product with bugs in it and a subsequent trail of fat service packs. The only time to ship a product is when everyone agrees it is ready. Within reason, the date of release isn’t the big issue; it is whether the product will be sufficiently improved to make upgrading an obvious business decision for the companies that use SQL Server.

Nobody who lives by producing commercial software can really condemn product slippages. Certainly, Red Gate has slipped a product or two in its time (SQL Prompt 3 being one), but the overall goal was to ensure that the tool, when it finally arrived, was good and fit for purpose.

OK, a 2-year delay on SQL Server 2005 was excessive, but when it finally arrived, it was pretty good. Or was it? We all have our bugbears, the parts of SQL Server we like to criticize, such as SSMS. However, it would be fascinating to hear your nominations for the one aspect of SQL Server 2005 that could have done with another year’s development before it saw the light of day, and why.

Post your nominations as a comment to my blog. All entries will go into a draw for a $50 Amazon voucher!