Backward compatibility is a key function that most users want and expect in today's upgrade products. Is Microsoft listening to its users? Find out what you should expect in terms of backward compatibility if a Vista upgrade is on your 2007 agenda.

October 16, 2006

The Losers in the Race to Vista

by Michael Otey

A scenario that seems to be repeating more often these days is that Microsoft isn t providing backward compatibility as a function in some of its new products. Case in point, Windows Vista isn't compatible with Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine (MSDE) as well as some other Microsoft applications. MSDE incompatibility will certainly be a problem for customers but evidently Microsoft didn't consider it a big enough problem to assign resources to work on fixing the incompatibility. From a Microsoft centric viewpoint this incompatibility problem might even be a win win situation. By cutting functionality from a product s design Microsoft can get that product out the door more quickly and encourage customers to upgrade all at the same time.

I think customers will take offense to this tactic because at the very least it amounts to misrepresentation. Microsoft never fails to say that it has the tightest integration with its own products and the company supposedly is interested in listening to its customers and its community. Clearly this incompatibility strategy isn't in the customer's best interest because it really forces customers to upgrade to newer releases. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a big fan of MSDE and I would always recommend using SQL Server 2005 Express rather than MSDE for any situation. ISV's will probably be affected by this the most because many third party applications use MSDE and will need to be changed before Vista is released. However, they're probably aware of the situation. The really unfortunate thing is the number of customers who aren t aware that MSDE won't run under Vista and will be caught by surprise when they upgrade to Vista.

MSDE isn't the only loser in the move to Vista. Microsoft's flagship development product, Visual Studio 2005, won't be fully compatible with Vista until after the release of Vista Service Pack 1 SP1 which is still in beta. Visual Studio 2005 runs under Vista but you'll discover a few problems with Vista's User Account Control (UAC). Earlier Visual Studio versions such as Visual Studio 2003 and Visual Studio NET won't be supported by Vista at all. Although developers tend to move forward faster than most users there are still a significant number of organizations that currently use Visual Studio 6 let alone Visual Studio 2003. Upgrading from these products is a bit tougher than the MSDE upgrade.

Upgrading from MSDE to SQL Server 2005 Express will require time and effort but at least this upgrade won't require additional expense because you can download both products from the Microsoft Web site for free. Not so with Visual Studio 2005. Upgrading from Visual Studio 2003 to Visual Studio 2005 Professional will set you back $549. And that's per seat. Although you can get lower prices from online retailers. For example, Amazon,com sells Visual Studio 2005 for $488.61.

Even SQL Server 2005 Express as new as it is won't be immune to Vista update problems. Before you attempt a Vista upgrade on any system running SQL Server 2005 Express, you'll need to upgrade to SQL Server 2005 Express SP2 which isn't available yet.

Backward compatibility at least with previous versions of Microsoft's products isn't a nicety but a necessity. Omitting this type of compatibility is essentially a failure both in engineering and customer relations. If you're considering the upgrade to Vista do your homework and make sure that the applications you're using are going to work with Vista. In other words, look before you leap.

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Enhancing SQL Protection A Case for Asynchronous Replication

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Jump Start Querying Database Tables and Views

by Michael Otey

Sometimes your code needs to do more than just query data from the database. For example, you might want to query the structure and objects in the database. For this type of query a basic approach is to query the available tables and views in your database. For example, to list the tables in the AdventureWorks database, use SQL Server Query Editor to execute the following code:
 

USE adventureworks

 GO

 SELECT FROM sys tables

GO

Sys tables is a system database that stores the names of all the tables in the current database. Likewise, if you want a list of all the views in a database use the sys views system table by executing the following code:
 

USE adventureworks

 GO

SELECT FROM sys views

GO

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Check It Out MSDE and Vista

by Michael Otey

If you re currently running Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine MSDE for some of your applications and you're considering switching to Windows Vista, an upgrade for MSDE is definitely in your future. But before you upgrade you should definitely check out the Microsoft white paper, "Upgrading from MSDE 2000 to SQL Server 2005 Express Edition."

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Resources and Events

SQL Server Magazine Connections Conference

Come learn about SQL Server 2005, WinFX, Visual Studio 2005, ASP NET 2.0, Atlas, and more.

November 6-9, 2006 at SQL Server Magazine Connections in Las Vegas

The conference will feature exciting Microsoft announcements that no one should miss. There's no better conference value in the USA this fall.

Email Discovery and Compliance

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Creating the Business Case for Disaster Recovery Planning and Budgeting

Can disaster recovery planning create real value for your business beyond mere survival. Justify your investments in DR planning and get real answers to your questions about how DR planning and implementation affect the financial performance of your organization. Make cost effective decisions to positively impact your bottom line.

Live Event Tuesday, November 14

Managing Your Cross Platform Data

Join experts Douglas McDowell from Solid Quality Learning and Andrew Sisson from Scalability Experts as well as Intel insiders and other database professionals to learn the latest about SQL Server and Oracle database mirroring, BI, 64-bit database computing, and high availability. Coming to cities across the US this fall.

Get the Most from Your Upgrade

Streamline and automate upgrades to SQL Server 2005 and manage multiple databases in less time. Leverage the data management, business intelligence, and performance improvements that you receive with an upgrade to SQL Server 2005 and unlock the full potential of your servers.

Live Event Thursday, November 2.

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5 New Books for SQL Server Professionals

by Blake Eno

Addison Wesley Professional released three new SQL Server books. Practical Business Intelligence with SQL Server 2005 offers insight into BI systems design and step-by-step best practices for implementing deploying and managing BI systems and is priced at $49.99. Introduction to SQL Mastering the Relational Database Language Fourth Edition illustrates each aspect of SQL with practical examples and exercises in each chapter to make sure you grasp all the concepts. This book is priced at $49.99. Inside SQL Server 2005 Tools covers several components such as Database Engine, Analysis Services, Reporting Services, Integration Services, and Notification Services. This book is priced at $59.99.