Microsoft is set tol release the first public beta of BizTalk Server 2006, code that includes the entire feature set of the finished product.

Microsoft plans to post registration for the beta on its website next Thursday, said Steven Martin, group product manager for the business process and integration division at Microsoft.

Once users register at the site, the beta code for the next version of Microsoft's business process and web services integration software will be sent to them in 48 hours, he said.

"This beta represents the functionality we plan to ship with the product," Martin said.

Features of the complete release that are available in the beta include proactive business activity monitoring (BAM) alerts that enable business users to keep track of key business performance metrics in real time, Martin said. "They could get an e-mail, instant message - any kind of proactive alerting against a key performance indicator," he said.

The beta also enables the various components of BizTalk server, such as workflow and communication frameworks, to be deployed as a single application rather than separately as in previous versions of the product, he said. "For an IT professional, deploying an application [on BizTalk] is significantly faster," Martin said.

BizTalk Server 2006 also will include seamless migration from BizTalk Server 2004, and the beta will allow users of the current version to test the success of this function, he said. Microsoft is particularly keen on getting feedback about this feature of the forthcoming product to ensure the migration goes smoothly when the final product is available, Martin said.

Supported platforms for the upcoming BizTalk release include the 64-bit runtime for Windows Server 2003, the .NET Framework 2.0, Windows Server 2003 Release 2, Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005.

Other enhancements to BizTalk Server 2006 include a single management console for configuring, deploying, managing and monitoring BizTalk Server applications; an updated management pack for use with Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2005; one-click start and stop operations for deploying and undeploying BizTalk applications; and a new, customisable BAM portal built on ASP.NET 2.0 technology.