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SQL Server 2005 Beta 3 Coming Later, Interim Preview Code Available

Microsoft released a technical preview of its upcoming SQL Server 2005 database on Friday at the same time as the company adjusted its timetable for delivering the next major beta, and possibly, the long-delayed product itself.

The public disclosure comes just three weeks after Microsoft's SQL Server PASS Community Summit, when Microsoft officials said the product remained on track for a Beta 3 release by the end of the year and a release to manufacturing in the first half of 2005. That conference would have represented a logical moment to update the roadmap, but Microsoft tucked the discussion of the delay it into a private e-mail to beta testers that went out on Friday.

Since March, Microsoft has been saying SQL Server 2005 was expected to enter the Beta 3 stage at the end of 2004, and hit the RTM milestone in the first half of 2005.

"We're on track to deliver a solid Beta 3 in Q1 and the final release next summer," Paul Flessner, Microsoft's senior vice president for server applications, wrote in the e-mail to customers. Using the fuzzy term "final release" gives Microsoft additional wiggle room in the schedule to RTM the database late in the summer, with general availability following that by a few months.

The SQL Server 2005 project, code-named "Yukon," has been plagued by delays for years. At one point, Yukon was supposed to be available to customers in late 2003.

Offering an olive branch to Microsoft's SQL Server customer base, Flessner announced the immediate availability of a SQL Server 2005 Community Technical Preview. "While the CTP is not a formal beta release, it provides you with an opportunity to preview changes coming in Beta 3 and to provide the development team with feedback," Flessner wrote.

The CTP version, which is the Developer Edition of SQL Server 2005, was immediately available to those with access to Microsoft's Betaplace and is supposed to be available to MSDN subscribers within two weeks.

Microsoft detailed major changes coming in Beta 3 at the SQL Pass conference. Changes included a fuller preview of the ETL technology, which has been renamed SQL Server Integration Services, and improvements to Analysis Services. Flessner's e-mail highlighted lower profile enhancements since Beta 2, which came out in July. The changes from Beta 2 to the SQL Server 2005 CTP include enhancements to quality and performance, user interfaces for management tools and to the end-user experience, Flessner's note said.

Microsoft may put out more Community Technical Previews for SQL Server 2005 before the Beta 3 test, Flessner wrote.

About the Author

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

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