In June 2007, Microsoft released the first public Community Technology Preview (CTP) of SQL Server 2008—code-named Katmai. This version is called June CTP, or CTP 3. In late July, Microsoft released a second public CTP called July CTP, or CTP 4. Until SQL Server 2008 is shipped (probably around mid to late 2008), you should expect to see a new CTP released every few months. Probably later this year, Microsoft will release a feature-complete CTP version, and most of 2008 will be dedicated to polishing work. In my T-SQL Black Belt columns, I’ll naturally focus on T-SQL–related enhancements.

For information about future versions of SQL Server, downloads of CTP versions, and links to forums where you can ask questions and report bugs, begin navigating at the Microsoft SQL Server home page ( http://www.microsoft.com/sql). You can download the latest CTP version of SQL Server 2008 at https://connect.microsoft.com/SQLServer/content/content.aspx?ContentID=5395, and you can participate in the MSDN SQL Server forums at ( http://forums.microsoft.com/MSDN/default.aspx?ForumGroupID=428&SiteID=1. I encourage you to install the latest CTP version on a virtual machine (e.g., Microsoft Virtual PC) and not directly on your machine. That’s what I do with prerelease versions: I create a base virtual machine (VM) with everything I need (e.g., OS, latest updates) but the CTP version of SQL Server, and back it up. Whenever a new CTP version of SQL Server is released, I simply copy the base VM's files to create a new VM, and install the new CTP version on it.