Last week, I talked about Microsoft's 15-page "year in review" press release, "Microsoft at Year's End: Broad Range of Products and Services Introduced in 2004; Advances in Services, Software and Tools Slated for 2005" (http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2004/dec04/12-14YearReview.asp). In the press release, Microsoft outlines what in its opinion are the company's most important achievements of 2004. But I want to know what you think the most important SQL Server news item from 2004 is. And what do you think the most important SQL Server trend or development will be in 2005? No, I'm not going to tell you what I think this week, and no, you can't simply say SQL Server 2005's release—that's too easy! Unfortunately, we didn't see a new version of SQL Server in 2004, but 2005 will—dare I say—finally be the year we see the first major SQL Server release in almost 5 years. Everyone knows that the official Microsoft response to a when-will-it-ship question is the handy "when it's ready." Microsoft doesn't like to provide exact dates for release to manufacturing (RTM) in advance, but it has been saying for some time that SQL Server 2005 would RTM in the first half of 2005. However, Paul Flessner, a Microsoft senior vice president, released a memo to the SQL Server community that said the company expects SQL Server 2005 to RTM in the summer rather than first half of the year. So, send me your thoughts about what Microsoft's greatest accomplishments were in 2004. I'll share your responses and my thoughts on these topics after the new year.

On a completely unrelated note, I was intrigued to read the story "Most players on a single game server" at http://www.techspot.com/story16387.html . Many people, myself included, think that Transaction Processing Performance Council (TPC) benchmarks offer misleading information about real database performance. The TPC tests are useful, but they only measure the performance of the TPC test being run; not your actual workload. To measure real workloads, you must find a more realistic stress-test environment. For example, what database purchasing manager could refuse a request for a brand new Unisys ES7000 server when it holds the Guinness World Record for the highest number of concurrent users on a single-server game system? If your database server can handle 1160 concurrent users playing Counterstrike, imagine what it could do for processing customer orders and other mundane tasks.

From the team at SQL Server Magazine UPDATE, we wish you, your family, and friends a happy new year!