I'm always surprised by how many SQL Server DBAs don't know about Microsoft's free SQL Server Web downloads. At the fall SQL Server Magazine LIVE! Conference, a third of the people I talked to had no idea these downloads existed. Other people seemed reluctant to install this functionality—even though it's free.

For some DBAs, if it doesn't come in the box, it doesn't go on their server. The DBAs might be only part-time and might not manage the server. Or, they simply might not load anything on the system that can possibly compromise it. Although I understand the goal, that philosophy is a holdover from when vendors delivered new functionality only every 2 years as a major release. The software industry has changed since those days. Now, the Internet lets software developers deliver significant updates without being tied to a product's major release cycle.

The SQL Server development team first took advantage of the Internet release channel shortly after launching SQL Server 2000. The team rolled out XML for SQL Server 2000 (SQLXML), adding functionality for storing and retrieving XML that Microsoft didn't have time to include with the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) version of SQL Server 2000.

Microsoft posted the first SQLXML release three months after releasing SQL Server 2000, adding functions for querying database tables and receiving the results as an XML document. The current Web release, SQLXML 3.0, provides support for exposing stored procedures as Web services as well as a set of SQLXML Managed Classes that lets .NET developers access SQLXML functionality. SQLXML 3.0 also gives you Updategrams, XML Bulk Load functionality, support for XML Schema Definition (XSD) mapping schemas, client-side XML functionality, a SQLXML OLE DB provider, and more. You can download SQLXML 3.0 at http://www.microsoft.com/sql/downloads/default.asp. Other useful downloads available at this link are the new SQL Server 2000 JDBC driver, SQL Server 2000 and 7.0 service packs, and SQL Server Windows CE Edition 2.0. You can also access the updated version of SQL Server 2000 Books Online (BOL) from this Web page.

In addition, Microsoft recently added SQL Server 2000 Notification Services to its collection of Web updates. All existing SQL Server 2000 licensees can download and implement Notification Services, which is an application that generates messages when it receives notification that a predefined event (stored in the SQL Server database) has occurred. Notification Services then sends the messages via email or delivers them to internal business systems or mobile devices such as cell phones and PDAs. Notification Services comes in Standard Edition for single-system implementations and in Enterprise Edition for implementations across multiple systems. You can download Notification Services at http://www.microsoft.com/sql/ns/default.asp.

Business conditions change too rapidly for vendors to wait for the next major release of their products to add functionality. And if you as a customer are ignoring these updates and waiting for the next major release of SQL Server or other products, you're leaving money on the table. When you've paid for a product license, you might as well take advantage of all the functionality that license entitles you to.