Last week, Microsoft announced the new SQL Server Workgroup Edition and the planned pricing model for SQL Server 2005. The price changes won't affect SQL Server 2000, though the new SQL Server 2000 Workgroup Edition will be released sometime during the first half of this year. Microsoft describes SQL Server 2005's four editions like this:

  • SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition: a complete data and analysis platform for large mission-critical business applications
  • SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition: a complete data and analysis platform designed for midsized businesses
  • SQL Server 2005 Workgroup Edition: an affordable, easy-to-use, simple-to-manage database solution for small to midsized organizations
  • SQL Server 2005 Express Edition: a no-cost, easy-to-use version of SQL Server 2005 designed for building simple data-driven applications

The 2005 Enterprise Edition will cost $24,999 per processor, which is up from SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition's $19,999 price. Standard Edition will cost $5,999 per processor, up from $4,999. Both the 2000 and 2005 versions of the new Workgroup Edition will cost $3,899. The Express Edition, which replaces Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine (MSDE), is free.

SQL Server 2005 will support three licensing models. The processor license model requires a separate license for each processor in a server running SQL Server. The server plus device Client Access Licenses (CALs) model requires a separate license for each server running SQL Server, plus a CAL for each client device. The server plus user CALs model requires a separate license for each server running SQL Server, plus a CAL for each user accessing the server.

So what features will you get for your money? Features lists are subject to change until the product ships, but here's where we stand now. Enterprise Edition has SQL Server with all the bells and whistles. You won't pay any add-on charges for advanced features offered in the product line. Standard Edition includes most of the Enterprise Edition features, but you'll be limited to four processors. One nice benefit is that SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition will support 64-bit processors, which SQL Server 2000 Standard Edition didn't support until Service Pack 4 (SP4). I haven't seen a full checklist of features for the SQL Server 2005 Workgroup Edition, but you can find a comparative list of the feature differences for all SQL Server 2000 editions at http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=4238:7B3DB. I do know that SQL Server 2005 Workgroup Edition won't include SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services or Analysis Services. SQL Server 2000 Workgroup Edition doesn't include Data Transformation Services (DTS), so I assume that SQL Server 2005 Workgroup Edition won't include SQL Server 2005 Integration Services (SSIS).

Many customers will complain about the price increase; however, an initial review shows that SQL Server price points are still below all the major competitors and I think the new price model is reasonable. Microsoft still hasn't addressed the fact that many SQL Server 2000 customers paid for Software Assurance, which guaranteed them the right to upgrade for free to a new version of SQL Server within four years. Because it has taken five years for Microsoft to release a new version, many customers who bought SQL Server 2000 Software Assurance will receive no upgrade for the price premium. If I were one of those customers, I might be angry about a price increase moving to SQL Server 2005. Legally, Microsoft owes these customers nothing because there was no binding promise that a new version would be released within the four-year period. However, I believe that Microsoft has a moral obligation to support customers who bought SQL Server 2000 with Software Assurance. SQL Server 2005 is literally years later than initial guesses. Every sane person inside and outside of Microsoft genuinely believed that Software Assurance would have provided SQL Server 2000 customers with at least one upgrade. Major delays in the SQL Server 2005 development cycle prevented this. Microsoft might not have a legal obligation to honor customers who bought SQL Server 2000 Software Assurance but they should be ashamed of themselves if they don't. Chances are that Microsoft will continue to ignore this problem unless customers make their displeasure known. If you bought SQL Server 2000 with Software Assurance and expected an upgrade, I encourage you to express your displeasure loud and clear to your local Microsoft representatives.