Greetings,
Last week's release to manufacturing (RTM) of SQL Server 2000 means that the latest SQL Server release is finally "real." SQL Server 2000 has moved from the realm of providing fodder for industry pundits to providing a viable option for systems you're building today.

If you're in the early stages of a SQL Server development effort, you should consider taking advantage of the product's exciting new features. If you're already running SQL Server as an application, you have a slightly more difficult choice. After all, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Not many SQL Server 2000 customer case studies are available today. But several Microsoft customers, including most of its internal business systems and 2 of the top 10 Internet retailers, have been running SQL Server 2000 for more than 3 months. Expect to see more details about SQL Server 2000 customers at the September 26 Enterprise 2000 launch, which will showcase SQL Server 2000 and other new .NET server platforms.

If you want to purchase SQL Server 2000 licenses, take a look at the SQL Server Technology Guarantee program ( http://www.microsoft.com/sql/productinfo/2000guar.htm ). This program provides free SQL Server 2000 upgrades to customers who purchase SQL Server 7.0 by September 29. Based on your particular license needs, a SQL Server 7.0 license could cost less than a SQL Server 2000 license. So, if you buy SQL Server 7.0, then immediately upgrade to SQL Server 2000, you could get a bargain.

If you haven't already experimented with SQL Server 2000, you can play with it through Microsoft's hands-on labs ( http://www.microsoft.com/sql/productinfo/handson.htm ). Microsoft provides six easy-to-follow labs to help you drill down into the following new features: Replication, Data Transformation Services (DTS), graphical administration, English Query, data analysis, and data mining.