My last commentary appeared the same day SQL Server 2008 was released, so I just missed getting to discuss the announcement. Now that SQL Server 2008 has been released to manufacturing, how are you going to find out what you can do with it? How will you determine whether there are new features or enhancements to existing features that you can’t live without?

There's so much information available, it’s hard to know where to start.  However, I recommend looking at some of the following resources:
• Microsoft has already produced several dozen white papers about various aspects of SQL Server 2008. You can find a list of these white papers, and a description of each, at
http://www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/2008/en/us/white-papers.aspx.
• There are dozens of blogs to be read, but it can hard to figure out which blogs are truly useful. Some bloggers just seem to rehash content gleaned from others or compete to see who can be first with a newsworthy announcement. However, you can get some truly useful information at http://sqlblog.com, http://www.sqlskills.com/blogs.asp, and, of course, http://www.sqlmag.com/blog. That should keep you busy most of the time, but there are also dozens of blogs by members of the SQL Server team at Microsoft. I list some of my favorites (as well as my favorite books) at
http://insidesqlserver.com/recommended/.
• Public newsgroups are a great place to see how many people are actually using the product and what kind of problems they're encountering. It can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, but once you do, you can find lifesaving (well, maybe job-saving) information there.
• Magazines are still great sources of content. In addition to SQL Server Magazine and Windows IT Pro, there are many generic tech industry magazines that provide you with information about products that help make your SQL Server run better.
• Conferences, such as PASS (http://www.sqlpass.org) and SQL Server Magazine Connections (http://www.devconnections.com/shows/FALL2008SQL/default.asp?s=122), give you a chance not only to hear about new features and product possibilities from the experts, but also to meet face-to-face with others who are encountering the same challenges that you are.
• If you like the idea of a conference, but can’t afford the travel expense or the time away from work, check out Stephen Wynkoop’s online conferences at http://www.vconferenceonline.com/sswug_intro.asp. You’ll also want to check out Microsoft’s collection of SQL Server 2008 webcasts at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/sqlserver/bb671062.aspx. More webcasts are being added all the time.

Although I originally wrote this list to help you get started, I realized anyone trying to find out what’s new in SQL Server 2008 could be overwhelmed by the amount of information out there. So you might want to back up and start with good old SQL Server 2008 Books Online at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb500435.aspx. It looks like there are plenty of resources to keep you busy learning and testing for quite a long time!