Are you planning to evaluate a 64-bit version of SQL Server 2000 for an upcoming project? Several readers have asked, "Where can I get an evaluation copy? I can't find one on the Microsoft Web site." I did some checking and, sure enough, Microsoft doesn't have an evaluation version of 64-bit SQL Server 2000 available for free download. The company provides a free evaluation version of the 32-bit product, so it's a little odd that Microsoft wouldn't make the 64-bit version available for free too.

Microsoft suggested two options for acquiring 64-bit SQL Server. You can download SQL Server 2000 Developer Edition (64-bit) from the MSDN Subscribers download site if you have a MSDN Universal subscription. The download is free to subscribers, but MSDN Universal subscriptions aren't free. The least expensive (and still legal) way to acquire a 64-bit version of SQL Server 2000 is to buy the SQL Server 2000 Developer Edition (64-bit). Microsoft sells the software for $49.99, and I've seen it available from Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) for less. I think offering a free evaluation for 32-bit and not doing so for 64-bit is an inconsistent policy for Microsoft, but alas, I don't make the rules.

The $49.99 list price for SQL Server 2000 Developer Edition is a nice touch, though. Microsoft lowered the price from $499 to $49.99 on August 1. But don't get any clever ideas about using the Developer Edition as a low-cost way to acquire SQL Server. The EULA clearly states that the Developer Edition is only for designing, developing, and testing your software products. However, using the Developer Edition is a great way to learn about SQL Server or just have fun. (It's pretty sad that I think playing with SQL Server might be fun, huh?) You can find a list of ISVs that sell the Developer Edition at http://shop.microsoft.com/helpdesk/mvlref.asp?S=Open.