Last week, Microsoft announced the release to manufacturing (RTM) of the 2007 Microsoft Office system, SQL Server 2005 Compact Edition Release Candidate 1 (RC1), and a Community Technology Preview (CTP) for SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 2 (SP2). It was a busy week. I’ve discussed the implications of the 2007 Office release on the SQL Server world a number of times, and I’ll be revisiting this topic in the near future now that the 2007 Office system is available. I’ll also be discussing SQL Server Compact Edition in an upcoming editorial. But this week, let’s chat about the SQL Server 2005 SP2 CTP.

You can download the CTP from http://www.microsoft.com/sql/ctp.mspx. What do you do with a CTP? Microsoft advises and encourages customers to experiment with the CTP in a way that lets them provide feedback that Microsoft can incorporate into the final SP2 release. Should you use this CTP in production? I hope you know the answer is no. Microsoft further clarifies with this advice: “As with all CTPs, we do not advise putting them into production because Microsoft does not provide support for these pre-release versions. However, we do recommend that customers download the CTPs, use them in a test environment and provide feedback so we can improve the final release. The exceptions are the customers in our Technology Adoption Program (TAP). Microsoft provides additional support to these customers to find out how the bits run in a real world environment.”

What are some of the most significant enhancements in SP2? Make sure to check out the Microsoft Web site for complete details, but some of the most significant enhancements include:

  • support for the pending release of Windows Vista
  • data-mining add-ins for the 2007 Office system
  • Oracle support in Report Builder, which lets you use Report Builder directly on top of Oracle data sources
  • SQL Server Reporting Services support for Hyperion
  • a new type of data compression, implemented by means of a new data type called varDecimal, which has practical performance-enhancement implications for such implementations as large data warehouses and SAP environments
  • numerous manageability enhancements that include maintenance plans, management reports, and a new-and-improved copy-database wizard
  • the addition of management reports for SQL Server Express and new support that lets SQL Server Management Studio Express Edition manage SQL Server Compact Edition databases
  • When will the final bits for SP2 become available? Microsoft says that SQL Server 2005 SP2 should be released after the launch of Windows Vista, which is still on track for delivery in the first quarter of 2007. Enjoy.