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Microsoft's Delay of SQL Server Stresses Software Assurance

The delay of SQL Server 2005 -- the official name for what has long been called Yukon --may complicate Microsoft's efforts to keep enterprises within its Software Assurance maintenance and upgrade program, analysts said Thursday.

On Wednesday, Microsoft said it was delaying SQL Server 2005 until the first half of next year, citing reasons that included a need "to ensure that the products meet the high-quality requirements of our customers." Previously, Microsoft had said it would release the next version of SQL Server in 2004.

The delay will cause "a massive domino effect" that includes delaying other announced major upgrades from Microsoft, such as Longhorn, as well as problems for companies that have subscribed to Software Assurance, said Joe Wilcox, an analyst with Jupiter Research's Microsoft Monitor.

The push-back of SQL Server 2005 will come as disappointing news to some Software Assurance (SA) subscribers, said Wilcox, if their upgrade and maintenance contacts for the software expire before the new version is finally released.

"Companies that were unsure whether they would sign up for another round of SA would be the most impacted," he said. Those firms now face a decision that may be tough to make, what with the schedule slip: renew SA when it expires, or pay full price for SQL Server 2005 when it does release.

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