"Oslo" -- a unified development platform -- highlighted at TechEd for Developers launch

Microsoft's major trade show for application developers launched today -- TechEd North America 2008 Developers. (A TechEd geared toward enterprise IT will begin next week). Bill Gate's

keynote earned rave reviews from those live blogging at the show for its demonstration of Microsoft Robotics. Reports have it that a robot named Ballmer-Bot came onto the stage and started yelling, Ballmer-style, "Developers! Developers! Developers!" (See video, below.) Funny stuff. But Microsoft also announced news of more substance this week, too, according to a Microsoft press release. Announcements at the event include more details of unified coding platform "Oslo," the release timing for Internet Explorer 8 beta 2, a technical collaboration with IBM over DB2, availability of Silverlight 2 beta 2, and the launch of the Microsoft project code-named “Velocity,” a distributed in-memory application cache platform. Specifically:

"Oslo" is promised, with no dates attached. Oslo is the code-name for Microsoft's unified modeling platform. Microsoft promised that Oslo will be the unified basis for "future versions" of Visual Studio, Microsoft System Center, BizTalk Server and Microsoft SQL Server. "Oslo" is slated to have "visual modeling and composition tools, a foundational repository built on SQL Server 2008 for managing application metadata, and a new, declarative modeling language to enable interoperability of models between tools and domain-specific modeling notations."

Internet Explorer 8 beta 2 will be available this August in 20 languages worldwide. Microsoft again promised for better support of standards.

Silverlight 2 beta 2 will be available later this week. The so-called Flash-killer is now available with a commercial "Go Live license," meaning that, even though it is a "beta" Microsoft is so confident in it that it wants developers to use it for launching live applications. Microsoft also released Expression Blend 2.5 June 2008 Preview and Microsoft Silverlight Tools beta 2 for Visual Studio 2008, plus plugged again the fact that Silverlight 2 beta 2 will be used to power NBC's online coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

An agreement with IBM to integrate IBM DB2 database access with Visual Studio Team System 2008 Database Edition. Microsoft Sync Framework is being showcased in its latest community technology preview (CTP). It is unclear whether Microsoft is announcing anything new with the framework, other than new partners. MSF is a synchronization platform for online/offline applications, services and devices. New partners include Fujitsu Siemens Computers, Ontela Inc. and SmugMug Inc. MSF will be released in the third quarter of 2008 and Microsoft promises this will include full support for the FeedSync open protocol format on devices. The company also says a CTP for Windows Mobile support will also be available in the third quarter 2008. "Velocity," is available in its first CTP version. This is the code name of one of Microsoft's up-and-coming technologies for the data center. Velocity is a distributed, in-memory application cache platform that makes Microsoft says eases development of scalable, high-performance apps needing frequent access to disparate data sources. It's goal is to virtualize large clusters of machines, turning them into a single cache.

Visual Studio 2008 extensions for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 v1.2 were also promised. This would be a new version that will allow developers to use Visual Studio 2008 for projects in Windows SharePoint Services and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server.

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