SQL Server delayed

Several UK accountancy and business software vendors suffered a launch hangover this month after it emerged that Microsoft’s new SQL Server version 7 would not be commercially available until mid-December at the earliest.

The database system was given a show-business send-off on 16 November at the Comdex IT trade show in Las Vegas. UK software partners, customers and journalists were invited to Microsoft’s Reading headquarters for a live satellite link with vice president Steve Ballmer.

But late changes to the product’s specification have put the general availability date back by a month or so.

One late enhancement will allow the new OLAP Services module to ‘write-back’ data to the relational database engine. Rival database vendors Oracle and Hyperion (Essbase) had highlighted this as a weakness in SQL Server’s new online analytical processing abilities.

‘It’s a big thing for us because we have to have it for budgeting software,’ said Comshare’s marketing director Nigel Youell.

For budgeting, write-back allows line managers to extract forecasts from the central database, amend their projections and return the updated information to the core store, explained Youell.

While budgeting software vendors were happy with the change, it was ‘a bit of a disappointment’, said Pegasus, communications director Chris Leak.

Pegasus designed its long-awaited MPower accounting package to work with SQL 7, and showed the product at the SQL 7 launch. But a further delay to MPower’s release is not popular with Pegasus resellers. ‘We’re getting pressure from resellers who want MPower with SQL Server 6.5,’ said Leak. ‘That’s probably what we’re going to do. MPower works beautifully with SQL 7, but will need more testing for 6.5.’

Acknowledging Pegasus’ own delays, Leak added, ‘We understand that software products do slip occasionally. We’d much rather have a stable product that’s a little late.’

A spokeswoman for Microsoft said the software had gone to manufacturing and ‘will ship when we said it would’.

The database server software will be available at an introductory five-seat upgrade price of #549 for users of ‘any mainstream database’ and desktop licences will start at #259 for five users. A 20-user licence would cost #999.

Software availability dates tend to fall into a twilight zone of uncertainty, but accountancy software vendors were expecting to be able to fulfil SQL 7-based products in December and January.

John Tate, managing director of Tate Bramald, a reseller of Great Plains Dynamics software, said customers were not beating down the door to ask for the latest version.

‘We avoid new Microsoft products until we are confident they are stable,’ he said.


Budgeting/business intelligence – Adaytum, Analyst Financials, Cognos, Comshare, Seagate Software

Financials – Foundation Systems, Geac, Great Plains, Infinium, Navision, Platinum, Pegasus, Solomon, Systems Union, Walker.

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