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Integration and security will be the watchwords at Microsoft’s annual Tech Ed 2004 conference, which will kick off Monday in San Diego.

The Microsoft brass will be on tap to talk up the benefits of “integrated innovation” (whether or not they actually use the company’s favorite catch phrase). For example, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer as well as Server and Tools Corporate VP Andy Lees are expected to focus their keynotes on how the growing amount of integration across the Windows Server System (as well as other Microsoft products) can help developers and customers cut costs and improve productivity.

Microsoft officials declined to comment on new product and strategy announcements that the Redmond software vendor is planning—other than acknowledging it will launch officially its Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2004 firewall product at the show.

However, other expected announcements, according to sources close to the company, include:

  • The Microsoft Information Bridge Framework, a new tool for more tightly integrating Office 2003 applications with back-end enterprise applications from Microsoft and third-party software vendors;
  • Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1), complete with its new “intelligent message filter” spam-fighting technology;
  • A new tool that will tie together BizTalk 2004 and SQL Server 2002 Reporting Services; and
  • A “Microsoft Access Conversion Toolkit” that will eliminate one of the supposed major “deployment blockers” in persuading Access 97 users to migrate to Office 2003.

    To read more about Windows XP Service Pack 2, click here.

    Although some had expected Microsoft to use the show as a launch pad for Release Candidate 2 (RC2) of its Windows XP Service Pack 2 release, it’s not for certain that the company will be ready to roll out the final RC2 bits during the week-long conference.

    To read the full Microsoft Watch story, click here.

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