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Microsoft is charting its future product course beyond Orcas in 2007.

Microsoft’s next major release of its Visual Studio application development tool set is known by the code name Orcas, but Microsoft also is hard at work on a version of the tool set that will revise Visual Studio Team System, or VSTS, the company’s team development system.

Sam Guckenheimer, group product planner for Visual Studio Team System, told eWEEK that Microsoft is working on a follow-on release to Orcas code-named Rosario. Rosario is the name of a resort on the Orcas Island. Microsoft has been code-naming some of its Visual Studio tools after some of the San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest. The current version of Visual Studio is code-named Whidbey, another of the San Juan Islands.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has a vision of an even more distant island for follow-on tooling to the Orcas timeframe in a set of technologies known by the code name Hawaii. But, “Hawaii is a code name that’s not actually attached to a release right now,” Guckenheimer said.

The goal of Microsoft’s successive versions of its tools, including the team-oriented tools, is to better enable first teams and then entire organizations to become more productive with the applications they build.

Orcas, which is due in 2007, is a release of the whole Visual Studio stack, including Team System, that is tied to the wave of Office System 2007 and the Vista operating system, Guckenheimer said during a one-on-one meeting with eWEEK on Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., campus.

The Rosario release of VSTS will follow Orcas, but “it will not be very different in terms of the Visual Studio Pro level functionality,” Guckenheimer said. “The emphasis will be moving forward on Team System.” Rosario is the follow-on release to VSTS, which is code-named Burton.

“The way to think about what we’re doing is that we went with Team System 2005 from where Visual Studio had been—which was 10 years of focusing on individual productivity, to growing to think about team productivity,” Guckenheimer said. The teams include project managers, testers, architects and database professionals—all roles that VSTS currently does or soon will cover, he said.

Click here to read Peter Coffee’s analysis of Visual Studio Team System.

And Microsoft continues to grow, thinking from team productivity to organizational productivity, he added. “So we’re very conscious that we live in an organizational environment where around that extended development team there are project management offices, chief information officers, business analysts, operations staff and IT pros, support staff, compliance officers and so forth,” Guckenheimer said. “And we need to be increasingly focused not on just optimizing for this development team, but in optimizing for the IT organization.”

The additional functionality will put Microsoft’s tools in more direct competition with IBM’s Rational tools.

Moreover, Guckenheimer said he believes IT organizations need to run as much as a business as the parent companies that maintain the IT organization.

“IT struggles with providing the same level of transparency and trustworthiness and customer satisfaction and availability [as the overall business itself],” he said.

Guckenheimer said Microsoft has what he considers a “fantastic” set of assets to bring to bear. “Team System has done a wonderful job of raising productivity in the application lifecycle for the extended team,” he said. “It doesn’t yet speak to the portfolio management space, where we also have a great product in Microsoft Office Project Portfolio Server. That doesn’t yet connect live with Team System.”

Next Page: Connecting Team Center to the data center.

Meanwhile, Microsoft provides a bit of connection between Team System and the data center, Guckenheimer said. “For example, we have a Design for Operations starter kit that provides workflows between Microsoft Operations Manager and Team System. That’s really just a down payment,” he said. AVIcode, of Baltimore, provides the starter kit via a partnership with Microsoft.

Guckenheimer said Microsoft is looking at the issue as three points on a triangle—the application life cycle, the operations life cycle and PMO—as parts of the organizational ecosystem and is working to tie them together.

“That’s the true north for where we go for much longer than Rosario,” Guckenheimer said. “Think of that as the five–to 10-year vision. We have lots of work to do there. We have an application platform vision that takes us very far there. What we’ll be doing in Orcas and Rosario is starting to light those up. You’ll see more integration flows with the data center and more integration flows with PMOs, and probably more between the data center and PMOs, too.”

Hawaii is still in the incubation stages, but it will likely play a role in the continued integration of Microsoft’s tooling story.

Meanwhile, the choice of Rosario, a resort on Orcas, as the code name for the VSTS follow-on was intentional, Guckenheimer said. “We think of this as not something that is a leap to another island,” he said. “We think of this as the building out of Orcas.”

Meanwhile, Rosario will feature the enhancement of some of the roles associated with VSTS and will include things customers have been asking Microsoft to deliver, Guckenheimer said.

In addition to some extension of roles, Microsoft will deliver improvements to the ease-of-use of the Team System product.

For example, Guckenheimer said, “We do today a very competitive job for globally distributed development. We do as well as anyone else.” But customers are pushing the company to deliver better support out-of-the-box for workflows where multiple companies are involved, he said.

Guckenheimer said what Microsoft is trying to do with its team tools is to make team development as productive as the company has made individual development.

“It’s analogous to what the company did with Visual Basic in individual programming,” Guckenheimer said. “What we hope to do with Team System is very similar—make it possible for any organization to collaborate on software and run multiple projects and get daily insight into the progress and pull quality upstream.”

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