Last week, Microsoft announced availability of SQL Server 2000 Windows CE Edition (SQL Server CE) 2.0. The new release includes updates that will improve your query capabilities and let you set security and connectivity options more quickly. But the most important change is that SQL Server CE is now integrated with the .NET Compact Framework and Visual Studio .NET. Combined, these tools provide a desktop and mobile-device programming model that's unified with the .NET Framework and that makes building applications for mobile devices easier than ever.

Pocket computing for business applications hasn't taken off as many folks expected. One of the biggest hurdles that pocket computing has faced is that few people are writing native applications for Windows CE devices. But the advent of unified programming models for desktop (i.e., connected) and mobile applications will make it easier for people to write once and deploy twice. In other words, a developer can use a mainstream desktop as an application's initial and primary development platform, but by making a relatively simple port, the developer can also deploy the application on mobile devices. I think this integrated development environment will boost the adoption of mobile applications in corporate America. And Microsoft agrees with me. The company says it expects consistency among mobile technologies to encourage more Visual Studio programmers to develop mobile applications. And Microsoft expects the increased developer engagement to "translate into more \[and\] better mobile applications for enterprise users."

With the demand for mobile applications expected to increase, mobile database computing might well be a high-growth specialization for SQL Server professionals to consider. To learn more about this exciting technology, you can download SQL Server CE 2.0 from a link on the product home page at http://www.microsoft.com/sql/CE/default.asp . This site also includes links to product overviews and a marketing-oriented evaluation guide. You'll find more technical information on the SQL Server CE Technical Resources site at http://www.microsoft.com/sql/ce/techinfo/default.asp . This site includes complete product documentation, an FAQ section, and a variety of white papers to help you get started with SQL Server CE.