SQL Server 2005 Launch
Microsoft has drawn a lot of fire for their products, but not many can argue that 2000 was a great year for them. Office 2000 was wildly popular and improved many workers' efficiency. Windows 2000 was arguably their best OS ever. And last but not least, SQL Server 2000 set the benchmark for ease of use and accessable functionality.
Well, they are about to launch SQL Server 2005. I think that '05 will be a good year for Microsoft, Vista non-withstanding. I have been playing with the developer version of their software for some time, and the ability to build huge chunks of your model logic directly in the database is a great advantage, not only in terms of simplifying application development, but also in security. By making your data access objects completely hidden for the most part from the internet, and exposing them only to methods or service calls from your application's controller layer. It is harder to perform tasks like SQL injection. I will stop short of saying that it is impregnable, but it will be much more robust.
Microsoft has also drawn fire for their new CLR engine option in SQL Server. The CLR (Common Language Runtime) is Microsoft's Java Runtime. The difference is that it will take Visual Basic, managed C++, or C-Sharp (C#) code. You are still able to use T-SQL to create procedures and user defined functions, but it is obviously better to use C-Sharp. The performance I have seen when writing C-Sharp against the CLR for Windows applications has been very good. It performs at least as well as java, and much better in many instances. I'm looking forward to using SQL Server '05, and I hope that I can convince my company to switch to it. Not that I am sick of SQL Server 2000. I still enjoy using it, but I think that for the sake of code-reusability and shared code between applications, the best option is the new SQL Server. The only other option is to use Oracle, but it may be slower and the learning curve is much steeper.