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Microsoft Releases Test Previews of SQL Server 2008 SP3

Microsoft this week released community technology previews (CTPs) of a new Service Pack 3 that's being developed to support various editions of SQL Server 2008.

CTPs are not-for-production test versions of Microsoft's products designed to get user feedback before the final release. The last service pack that Microsoft released for its SQL Server 2008 relational database management products was Service Pack 2, back in September 2010. On Monday, CTP test versions of SP3 were made available at the Microsoft Download Center for the first time.

The new SQL Server 2008 SP3 CTP can be downloaded here. It's available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions for most editions of the product, including the Evaluation, Standard, Enterprise, Developer and Workgroup editions.

The new SQL Server 2008 SP3 Express edition CTP (32-bit and 64-bit) can be downloaded here. The Express edition is free to use, but Microsoft only recommends it for supporting smaller server and desktop applications, or just for learning purposes.

The CTPs contain improvements based on earlier customer comments, but Microsoft managed to reduce the changes with this release by about 65 percent, according to Abhishek Sinha, a program manager for the Microsoft SQL Server sustained engineering team. Sinha explained in a blog post that introducing fewer changes into the service packs adds greater sustainability on the customer's side, and Microsoft had improved its product development processes with an eye toward achieving that goal.

The changes highlighted by Sinha included an improved upgrade experience. SQL Server Integration Services will now show the total rows sent in data flows. There are also some functional improvements. Users get a warning message during a maintenance process "if the Shrink Database option is enabled," Sinha explained. A SQLAgent.exe shared memory problem that prevented the program from running from the command line has been fixed, he added.

A list of the flaws that were fixed in SQL Server 2008 SP3 CTP can be found in this Knowledge Base article.

The current nontest version of SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1 was released by Microsoft in July. Microsoft also released a CTP3 test version of its next-generation SQL Server, code-named "Denali," at that same time.

About the Author

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

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