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SQL Server, Developer Tools Coming in Express Editions

Microsoft is readying a free version of SQL Server and low-cost versions of developer tools for enthusiasts and non-professional users.

The company announced that later this week it will post beta versions of SQL Server Express Edition, Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition, Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition, Visual C# 2005 Express Edition, Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition and Visual J# 2005 Express Edition.

The SQL Server Express Edition is built with the same code as SQL Server 2005, the long-awaited, next-generation of SQL Server, which is reportedly days away from entering its next stage of beta testing.

"It's the little brother of SQL Server Standard Edition. This is the successor to MSDE (Microsoft Data Engine)," says Tom Rizzo, a SQL Server director at Microsoft. Rizzo says there was confusion in the market about whether the freely distributable MSDE was based on Microsoft's Jet database engine, on SQL Server or on some other technology. "We put a stake in the ground. It is SQL Server," Rizzo says.

The Express version of SQL Server is more than a name change, however. A Web-based interface gives the product a management interface, where MSDE was command-line based, Rizzo says. Licensing has been simplified as well. Where MSDE had a workload governor that slowed it down once it was used to power more than five concurrent workloads, SQL Server Express Edition has more straightforward limits -- 1 processor, 1 GB of RAM and 4 GB of database size per database.

Pricing is not set for the developer tools, although Rizzo estimates it will be in the tens of dollars. In a statement, senior vice president for servers and tools, Eric Rudder, said, "These low-cost, approachable products will help hobbyists and students learn new skills in a simple and enjoyable way."

Earlier this year, Microsoft introduced the "Express" brand to denote stripped down or "lite" versions of larger products. The first product slated for an "Express" version is Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM).

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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