Microsoft announced the immediate availability of SQL Server 2000 Windows CE Edition (SQL Server CE) in late October, extending the reach of its enterprise database solution to the smallest mobile devices. SQL Server CE runs on Microsoft's Pocket PC and Handheld PC systems, which are the most recent versions of Windows CE-based Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs). SQL Server CE requires Windows CE 2.11 or later and is compatible with SQL Server 2000, 7.0, and 6.5.

SQL Server CE retains the look and feel of SQL Server—good news for longtime SQL Server users—and includes the same recognizable tools, APIs, and T-SQL grammar. And customers will applaud the economy of a software package that occupies only 1MB of RAM on the host CE system. But even more exciting is SQL Server CE's support of 2-way synchronization with SQL Server through remote database access and merge replication. These features give mobile users access to many capabilities while the PDA is disconnected from the network. When users reconnect the PDA to the network, SQL Server CE automatically synchronizes with the device's back-end data store. In wireless contexts, SQL Server CE's remote database access and merge replication features also work across Web-standard HTTP, giving remote users uninterrupted access to the server. In addition to its small size and replication capabilities, SQL Server CE gives developers familiar tools that work with existing development environments such as Visual Basic (VB).

"The new digital economy challenges companies to distribute information throughout an organization and with customers across the Web," says Marie Huwe, SQL Server group product manager at Microsoft. "To succeed, enterprises must create new mobile applications that can be easily deployed in the hands of everyone from salespeople and shop-floor employees to customers. SQL Server 2000 Windows CE Edition helps businesses gain a competitive advantage by enabling them to easily use next-generation devices and the Web."

Licensing for SQL Server CE is particularly convenient. Because SQL Server CE is bundled with the SQL Server 2000 Developer Edition, users who purchase the Developer Edition can repeatedly deploy SQL Server CE in standalone mode for free. However, users need to obtain a Client Access License (CAL) or per-processor license for CE devices that connect to a back-end SQL Server database.