Microsoft Business Framework Delayed

MBF, which is to be the foundation of new business applications from both Microsoft and its partners, is postponed due to Yukon, Whidbey slippage.

March 24, 2004

4 Min Read
Network Computing logo

A quiet casualty of the latest Yukon/Whidbey slippage is the Microsoft Business Framework.

The framework, or MBF, which ostensibly builds upon the broader .Net framework, is to be the foundation of new business applications from both Microsoft and its ISV partners. Early pieces of it have shown up in the Microsoft Business Portal. But "early bits" that were to be made available to ISVs by late last year never emerged.

The reason? The evolving framework is closely tied to the upcoming SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 releases, Microsoft executives acknowledged. Earlier this month, Microsoft conceded that those releases had slipped from late this year into 2005. the first half of 2005.

In the meantime, Microsoft continues to talk to customers and partners about what they want to see in MBF, Prashant Sridharan, lead product manager for Visual Studio, told CRN Monday. He said the latest plan is for MBF to ship when or shortly after Visual Studio 2005, aka Whidbey, makes it out the door. Both Whidbey and the new SQL Server, aka Yukon, are due next year.

MBF is more tied to the database than to Visual Studio, Sridharan noted. "There are some dependencies around object entity relationships in Yukon," he said.Devising a framework for business applications that, by their nature, continually evolve via customization is harder than building a base for more static applications, said Satya Nadella, corporate vice president for MBS Product Group.


Sridharan concurred. "To build a framework for customizable enterprise apps is tough. If you know the problem demand you're building for, you can build for it. [But] we're building a more generic framework," he noted. That framework must be able to accommodate the flexibility that continued customization demands, both by third-party ISVs and in-house corporate developers.

Sridharan said his group, which includes developers from the once-separate Navision, Axapta and Great Plains development efforts, aims to prioritize those items that absolutely must be in the framework vs. those in a wish list.

"It's a very typical phase of the product development cycle. In the beginning, the initial scope [comprises] everything, [then it's time to get realistic]," Sridharan said. "We have to decide to do this chunk now--we can't do it all, so what should we do first?"Toward that end, Microsoft continues to talk with customers and partners.

Several MBS solution providers were unsure of the MBF status, but said they had more than enough on their plates with the current releases and near-term updates of Great Plains, Microsoft CRM and other MBS products.

In related news, developers eager to see the latest and greatest Whidbey code will get access to what Microsoft is calling "community technical previews" of that code later this week at the VSLive show in San Francisco.

These "community code drops" are interim builds of the nascent tool suite for developers to hammer on. The goal is to get earlier feedback from hard-core developers, Sridharan said. CRN last week reported that an additional preview of the code would be made available at the show.

Sridharan said these smaller, more incremental code drops differ from more monolithic alpha and beta releases the company tends to issue. Microsoft also typically offers "external releases" of early code to important customers. One solution provider posited that Microsoft has decided that one of those external releases is big enough to give to a broader audience.The whole semantics of pre-alpha, alpha, pre-beta and beta code is in flux. Last fall, the Redmond, Wash., company issued "early bits" or early beta, of Longhorn code at its Professional Developers Conference. Solution providers say vendors that need to generate news at a given event simply drop whatever code they have available, regardless of its readiness.

For Visual Studio, Microsoft needs input from the developer community--and that's the target audience of the community technical previews. "Developers will install anything, whereas an IT guy in the data center will not," said Sridharan, who added that his team is very excited about these "community technical previews."

"In the past, when we did a [big] alpha or beta drop, it required a huge machine crank; we had to make the disks and by the time the build was in customer hands, it was four weeks old," he said. The idea behind these previews is to shorten the feedback loop between developer customers and Microsoft.

Elizabeth Montalbano contributed to this story.

This article appears courtesy of CRN.0

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights