As you would expect, Microsoft’s new SQL Server 2012 release will include many new features, but perhaps most importantly, it will also mark some significant changes in the SQL Server product lineup.
The new SQL Server 2012 family will be comprised of the Enterprise, Business Intelligence, Standard, Web, Developer, and Express editions. The Microsoft article "Features Supported by the Editions of SQL Server 2012," offers a detailed look at each one. Here's a quick overview of the SQL Server 2012 family:
SQL Server 2012 Standard Edition
SQL Server 2012 Standard Edition is limited to 16 cores and 64GB of RAM. It provides the core relational database engine and basic business intelligence (BI) capabilities.
It doesn't include support for the advanced availability features or the more powerful BI features such as PowerPivot, Power View, and Master Data Services. The Standard Edition does include support for two-node AlwaysOn Failover Clusters, and it's licensed either per core or per server.
SQL Server 2012 Business Edition
SQL Server 2012 Business Intelligence Edition is a new member of the SQL Server family. Like the Standard edition, the Business Intelligence edition is limited to 16 cores for the database engine and 64GB of RAM. However, it can use the maximum number of cores supported by the OS for Analysis Services and Reporting Services.
The Business Intelligence edition includes all of the features in the Standard edition and support for advanced BI features such as Power View and PowerPivot, but it lacks support for the advanced availability features like AlwaysOn Availability Groups and other online operations. The Business Intelligence edition supports two-node AlwaysOn Failover Clusters, and it's licensed per server.
SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition
SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition is the high end of the SQL Server 2012 product lineup. It supports the maximum number of cores and RAM in the host OS and provides the complete SQL Server feature set, including support for all of the advanced availability and BI features.
The Enterprise edition supports up to 16-node AlwaysOn Failover Clusters as well as AlwaysOn Availability Groups, online operations, PowerPivot, Power View, Master Data Services, advanced auditing, transparent data encryption, the ColumnStore index, and more. The Enterprise edition is licensed per core.
SQL Server 2012 Express Editions and LocalDB
SQL Server 2012 will continue to offer three versions of the free SQL Server Express Edition: Express (Database Only), Express with Tools, and Express with Advanced Services. Microsoft will also continue to offer a download of SQL Server Management Studio Express.
The Express editions are limited to support for one CPU and 1GB of RAM. Databases are limited to 10GB per database. In addition, a new option called LocalDB will also be available.
LocalDB isn't the old Compact Edition: It uses the same sqlservr.exe engine as the other editions of SQL Server and is designed for developers. It requires no configuration and runs as a user process, not as a service.
For more information about LocalDB, check out the SQL Server Express Web Log at MSDN: "Introducing LocalDB, an improved SQL Express."
SQL Server 2012 Web and Developer Editions
SQL Server 2012 Web Edition and SQL Server 2012 Developer Edition will continue to be part of the SQL Server 2012 family. The Developer edition provides the same feature set as the Enterprise edition. However, it's licensed per developer and can't be used for production work. The Web edition is licensed only to hosting companies with a Services Provider License Agreement (SLPA).