Recently, I stumbled across a gem of a post by Chad Jones, Product Manager for SoftGrid at Microsoft. In it he touches on a number of topics related to the future of SoftGrid, what to expect from the next version and also how the technology will eventually be merged with other Windows Server components. Here's the link to the thread (hint: scroll down to see Chad's reply).
1. SoftGrid 4.5 will enter beta in a few weeks (Q4 2007). From the sounds of it, this will be the last stand-alone version they release before absorbing the server components into Windows Server System, etc.
2. Version 4.5 will include a new, "lightweight" streaming implementation that doesn't' require Active Directory or SQL Server. This version will complement the existing SoftGrid server components as well as the new MSI packaging tool, providing 3 ways to deploy SoftGrid-packaged applications.
3.Microsoft will complete its integration of SoftGrid when it releases Microsoft Systems Center Configuration Manager (MSCCM) R2 sometime next year. Chad is promising "deep" integration with MSSCM, whatever that means.
I've been saying all along that Microsoft acquired Softricity in order to "strip mine" the core components. The MSI utility - which allows organizations to decouple SoftGrid-encoded applications from the streaming back-end - was the first salvo.
The revelation that they are developing a "lightweight" (i.e. pure-play, web-based) streaming server, one that allows them to deliver virtualized applications without all that AD/SQL baggage, simply confirms my prediction that they will eventually leverage SoftGrid to deliver a subscriptions-based Office product.
Finally, the hint about "deep" integration with MSCCM validates my assertion that Microsoft would ultimately dump the existing SoftGrid UI (which is klunky and rather ill-conceived) in favor of a fresh start under one of their existing management consoles.
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