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Microsoft Offers SQL Server 2008 R2 Test Bits

Subscribers to Microsoft's TechNet and Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) services can now get their hands on the first community technology preview (CTP) of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2.

The August CTP bits can be downloaded today at the TechNet and MSDN Web portals. Microsoft plans to make this CTP available to the general public on Aug. 12, which can be downloaded here at that time. A hosted test version will be available here.

This CTP adds a few new features to Microsoft's latest database management product.

One of those features is Report Builder 3.0, which succeeds version 2.0 released in April. Users can combine data and construct their own graphical reports via a Microsoft Office-like interface in Report Builder. A new capability is the addition of geospatial data, according to a Microsoft blog.

Microsoft is also touting the ability to use Report Builder 3.0 in server mode, which takes advantage of the data-caching capability on the server for faster report generation.

The August CTP also includes tools for database administrators, such as new multiserver management wizards, that can set up resource-use views. Users can set up dashboards to help assess application use of SQL Server 2008 R2.

Finally, database administrators can configure a data-tier application using the new CTP. A data-tier application combines "database objects with deployment requirements to help accelerate upgrades and deployments," according to Microsoft's blog.

Future CTPs, which are expected "in the coming weeks," will include other improvements. For instance, Microsoft plans to start a private preview of Project Madison, which is Microsoft's scalable data warehouse project that integrates parallel processing technologies acquired from DATAllegro. In addition, a limited preview of "Gemini" data analysis ad-in tools for Excel and SharePoint will appear.

Microsoft plans to add support for complex event processing with "StreamInsight," which is Microsoft's term for a near real-time data analysis capability in SQL Server 2008 R2. Also to be seen will be "the first CTP for SQL Azure Database." SQL Azure is a database component in Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud computing platform.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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