When you're trying to decide how to prepare for SQL Server 2005 and all its new features and architectural options, remember the words of wisdom of sayings such as, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" and "Rome wasn't built in a day." I'm well aware that you probably have little time in your day to devote to learning about a product that you won't be using in production for at least 6 months. But, as I have said before, SQL Server 2005 isn't going to be a product upgrade that you can cram for inside a weekend. But don't worry; I have a suggestion. If you don't have weeks to devote to learning about the new product or you're overwhelmed by the amount of information you're seeing about SQL Server 2005, breaking the information into bite-sized pieces might be the way to go.

Microsoft is publishing a massive amount of information about SQL Server 2005 in its latest Webcast series, and the content is already broken into easily digestible pieces. When you register for the SQL Server 2005 Webcast series at http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=712F:7B3DB , you can learn more about Microsoft .NET Framework integration, T-SQL and managed code, Web services, native XML support, data access using ADO.NET 2.0, and much more. You'll find 25 developer-related topics offered in April alone--not counting the many Webcasts Microsoft has released over the past few months that are available for viewing. The "Find Events and Webcasts" page at http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=7131:7B3DB shows 110 SQL Server-related Webcasts released in the last 90 days. Those 110 Webcasts aren't only about SQL Server 2005, but not surprisingly, most of the recent content does cover the upcoming release. And if you're lucky, you'll win a Windows Portable Media Center pre-loaded with the best SQL Server 2005 Webcasts.

I know that for many overworked folks out there, just looking at the Webcast list might be intimidating. But set aside an hour, pick the course that looks most interesting to you, then cross it off the list when you're done. A few dozen Webcasts later, you'll have accumulated a good working knowledge that will make it easier for you to implement SQL Server 2005 or at least create a more specific plan of study. Of course, there's no substitute for actually playing with the product, but you need to start somewhere. Get yourself some popcorn and a soda, put your feet up, and start learning about SQL Server 2005. A chance to eat a lot of popcorn? Sounds like a good plan to me!