Without a doubt, SQL Server 2008 is the most feature-rich release of SQL Server yet, making the task of learning about it a challenge. Microsoft has come out with an impressive collection of Webcasts designed to help you learn about the vast array of functionality SQL Server 2008 provides. All told, there are 24 different SQL Server 2008 Webcasts. They’re free for the watching. Here are five I like:

The Next Release of Microsoft SQL Server: Overview

If you’re looking for a quick, high-level overview of the new features in SQL Server 2008, then this 65-minute Webcast is for you. In it, Dave Campbell, Microsoft Technical Fellow and a software architect for the SQL Server Storage Engine, discusses the goals behind the SQL Server 2008 release. It also offers demos of the major new features and an overview of the SQL Server 2008 development process.

What’s New in Microsoft SQL Server 2008—MS Learning Clinic

Technically, speaking this isn’t a Webcast but a set of three E-learning courses for SQL Server 2008. The three courses cover the new features in SQL Server 2008 business intelligence (BI), database development, and how to use SQL Server 2008 as an enterprise data platform.

Rich Report Design with SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services

This one-hour Webcast covers the reporting creation capabilities provided with SQL Server 2008 and offers an in-depth look at the enhancements to Reporting Services Report Designer. It also demonstrates the new visualizations for charts and gauges as well as the updates to the end-user–oriented Report Builder tool.

The Value of Business Intelligence with SQL Server 2008

Getting a handle on exactly how BI fits in with your relational database and existing business model is a challenge. This 90-minute Webcast shows how SQL Server 2008 can help you utilize BI within your company, and it highlights many of the new BI features in SQL Server 2008.

Overview of SQL Server Availability Features and Upcoming Improvements

High availability is right at the top of every DBA’s list of top priorities. In this one-hour Webcast, you’ll learn about SQL Server 2005’s high availability features such as clustering, database mirroring, and log shipping, and you’ll see how Microsoft is enhancing each of these features in SQL Server 2008.

Related: Efficient Data Management in SQL Server 2008, Part 1