On April 18th, Microsoft Senior VP of Server Technologies, Paul Flessner announced that Microsoft would be moving from a standard beta release cycle for SQL Server 2005 towards the more flexible Community Technology Preview (CTP) format.

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This decision is significant for a number of reasons.  First, it’s an indication that the much-awaited beta 3 release of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Yukon really isn’t needed.  Microsoft usually applies two key milestones to when a product is ready for a beta three release.  First, Microsoft requires that several large customers (especially those willing to make a press release) have the beta product up and running for a production environment.  Second, Microsoft requires that a ‘go-live’ license is available to the public.  A go-live license is one that says that Microsoft will provide support for beta customers even though the product is not yet GA (Generally Available).  Microsoft has no made SQL Server 2005 Express Edition available under a go-live license.

 

The new April CTP is an excellent version to start your beta testing, if you haven’t already done so.  In effect, it is the beta three release of SQL Server 2005.  After speaking to several SQL Server program managers at Microsoft, I was impressed that a number of features (pending any major new findings, of course) are settling down to production or near-production quality. 

 

The quality of the CTP and Microsoft’s innovative and flexible approach to supporting pre-RTM deployments is a boon to the community.  You can now go forward with confidence that you’re working with a product very similar to the commercial release.  Will changes occur in the bits?  Undoubtedly.  Will there be more CTPs before the GA release of SQL Server 2005?  Certainly.  (I’m beginning to sound like a Magic 8 Ball, here.)  But you can also now implement production deployments of SQL Server 2005 Express Edition with the full backing of Microsoft.

 

The full version of SQL Server 2005 is soon to follow.  Click on these hyperlinks to read case studies about how customers like Koehler Paper, MetaLife, and Summit Partners, are working with  SQL Server 2005 today.

 

You can get the full beta of SQL Server 2005 if you have an MSDN subscription or if you participate in the Technology Adoption Program (TAP).  (The TAP program, incidentally, is run by a friend of mine named Fernando Caro who served as Microsoft’s liaison to the PASS board of directors for over two years.)  If you’re interested, complete the TAP program registration form to get involved in the program.


Thanks,

-Kevin