You might find it hard to believe, but sometimes it’s not easy coming up with a topic for my SQL Server Magazine UPDATE commentary. So this week, I decided to do an online search of SQL Server news to see what hot topics were being discussed in the SQL Server community. Of course, what might be a hot topic to one person might be ice cold to someone else.

At the top of the search list was an announcement of Microsoft’s intended acquisition of DATAllegro, a "provider of breakthrough data warehousing appliances." Then I remembered that last week, several of my students in a private class I taught for a network technology company, had excitedly mentioned this acquisition.  So this must be hot news, I thought. Because I don’t work directly with data warehousing, or with any of SQL Server’s business intelligence (BI) components for that matter, it wasn’t on my radar. So I did a search of all the newsgroups that I participate in, but I found no mention of this news. If it's really that hot of a topic, wouldn’t people be talking about it?

The most frequently mentioned topic, but not the top one in my search results, was the official release of SQL Server 2008. There were many people speculating on what the actual release date would be. There were also references to blogs written by people who have no clue what the official release date will be but want to talk about it any way. It reminded me of the hubbub early this year when Microsoft announced the launch of SQL Server 2008 and people thought the launch was somehow tied to the actual release. In Microsoft-speak, "launch" has a special meaning that's tied to lots of big fancy marketing events.

The product's release doesn’t mean that members of the general public will be able to go to their favorite software store, physically or online, and buy SQL Server 2008. The release date is just the date that Microsoft decides the product is finished. At that time, Microsoft releases the code to actually be turned into the retail product that can then be downloaded by MSDN subscribers or purchased in whatever way you prefer to purchase server software.  We can talk about the release to manufacturing (RTM) version of the product at that time.

Some of the search results mentioned that it was announced at the Microsoft Partner Conference that SQL Server 2008 would be listed on Microsoft's August price list, which means you'll be able to order it at that time. You can read about this news in the SQL Server Magazine blog "SQL Server 2008 Available on Microsoft's August Price List," at
http://sqlmag.com/article/articleid/99705/sql_server_blog_99705.html. But just because a product is orderable, doesn’t mean it's ready to be shipped. You could order all the Harry Potter books, for example, through online bookstores many months before the books were actually available.

One of the bloggers whose blog showed up on the first page of my search results actually mentioned hearing a specific date from "someone at Microsoft." This blog, which you can read at http://bink.nu/news/microsoft-sql-server-2008-rtm-on-31-july.aspx, mentions a release date of July 31, 2008, which happens to be the day that this commentary will appear in SQL Server Magazine UPDATE. Some people might think that it will be a miracle if the SQL Server team is actually able to finish the product by July 31. It might not take a miracle, but it just might take a bit of magic. But that, I believe, is possible because July 31 just happens to be Harry Potter’s birthday!