The top time-savers in WinServ, SQL and VS 2008

Microsoft creates fictitious firm to showcase features of Windows Server 2008, SQL Server and Visual Studio

Resource Governor (SQL Server 2008): Rick Claus, an IT pro advisor with Microsoft Canada, demonstrated a tool that allows users to manage competing workloads operating on the same server. He used the example of e-mail, showing some major performance problems because everyone in a company was allowed the same amount of resources. With a few clicks, those CPUs and other resources were given different priority settings. Resource Governor is designed to allow users to more thoughtful plan out their infrastructure utilization but act on problems a lot sooner, execs said.

"Does this mean Bill's and Steve's and my e-mail is going to run slower?" Turner quipped.

"Sorry about that," Claus said.

Split View (Visual Studio 2008): One of the ironies of developing a great-looking Web site is having to wear your eyes out staring at all the ugly HTML underneath. Christian Beauclair, Microsoft Canada's senior developer advisor, demonstrated a feature that creates two panes: one on top showing the code, and another that gives a visual representation of what's being created.

"What's great is you can look at the content of the code in-line without switching to another application," he said, showing how it was possible to click on a word in the code view and immediately see a drop-down menu with options on what to do with it.

Hyper-V (Windows Server 2008): Although it won't be available for the next three months, Turner said the ability to virtualize servers at the OS kernel layer will give users a jump on consolidating their IT infrastructure. He said he wished he'd had this kind of functionality when he had been CIO of Wal-mart several years ago.

"Things have really moved along quickly," he said. "It's incredible to think you would have had eight to 10 servers, and now you can take those eight to 10 servers and turn them into one. It would have taken years for us build that kind of structure before." Microsoft will be using Windows Server 2008's virtualization features in "almost 100 per cent" of the data centers it is building around the world, Turner added.

Declarative Management Framework (SQL Server 2008): Claus showed how users could create policies, such as how information is shown in a database or whether certain use of a system is restricted, and distribute that policy across multiple instances of SQL Server 2008. This could be done in minutes, rather than enforcing policies on a per-server basis. "We've automated a lot of the administration here," he said.

Performance HotPaths (Visual Studio 2008): "When you run a test (of an application), you end up with a lot of data," said Etienne Tremblay, lead technologist at EDS. Normally developers that wanted to see where the application was spending the bulk of its time would do so by poring over the "calltree view" in a performance report. Hotpath, Tremblay explained, allows for more efficient hunting.

"There's this little flame that pops up (in the call view tree)," he said. "You click on the flame and that brings you to where the bottleneck is." This really makes for faster analysis, he added.

Microsoft didn't release detailed pricing about its enterprise software products, but Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 are available today, as is a February community technology preview of SQL Server. General availability is expected in the third quarter, Microsoft said.

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