Happy New Year! It’s the first week of the new year, so an ideal time to start thinking about what 2005 has in store for developers.

The number one event, at least for me, has to be the release of the .NET Framework 2.0 and Visual Studio 2005 (aka ‘Whidbey’). There is loads of information at the Visual Studio 2005 Developer Center, and the latest Community Technology Previews (which are interim builds, to enable you to track the latest changes and updates) can be downloaded by MSDN subscribers. There are so many areas of interest with Visual Studio 2005 that’s its really hard to pick out my favourites, but the “ClickOnce” deployment will be much appreciated by anyone who has had to roll out applications to the desktop, and a new low cost Visual Web Developer 2005 Express edition that makes it cheap and easy to start developing with ASP.NET.

Also shipping later this year is SQL Server 2005 (aka ‘Yukon’). It ships with version 2.0 of the .NET Framework, so it is very much tied in with Visual Studio 2005 and its shipping schedule. The integration with the .NET framework is interesting – for example, it means it is now possible to write .NET code, in say C#, and have it execute inside the SQL engine. It’s a nice alternative to T-SQL, which I have never really got into. There are lots of other interesting developer features in SQL Server 2005, and I plan to spend more time this year with it. I should also mention SQL Server 2005 Express Edition, the successor to Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine (aka MSDE). If you need a small, lightweight and free version of SQL Server 2005, this is the product to look at.

In terms of the release schedules, it still all very much depends on feedback from the beta editions, but if all goes well, we can hope for a summer release. In the UK we will be running a MSDN Technical Roadshow nearer the launch, at a number of locations around the country, focused on these two products, so keep watching this space for more information real soon now.

My current focus is on “connected systems”, so I have been spending my time working with XML Web Services and BizTalk. On the web services front, the Service Pack 2 of Web Services Enhancements (WSE) was released just before Christmas, in case you missed it. It’s too early to talk about the features and functionality in WSE 3 at this stage, but work is underway on it, and the current thinking is it will target Visual Studio 2005. More details to follow, but keep an eye on the blog from Hervey Wilson, on the WSE team.

For BizTalk, Scott Woodgate has released a BizTalk Server Roadmap. It’s a pretty high level overview, but does talk about the BizTalk Server 2006 and Longhorn releases.

Finally, although its towards the end of the year, don’t forget we will have a Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles, Sept. 11 - 16, 2005.