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Microsoft Releases SQL Server 2016 SP1

Microsoft today announced that the first service pack for SQL Server 2016 is now available.

The company announced the availability on stage at its Connect() developer conference, currently being held in New York, and in a follow-up blog. The big change coming to Microsoft's latest SQL Server offering, which was released in June of this year, is a consolidation and addition of advanced features across all versions of the product.

"With SQL Server 2016 SP1, we are making key improvements allowing a consistent programmability surface area for developers and organizations across SQL Server editions," wrote Parikshit Savjani, senior product manager for the SQL Product Group, in a blog post. "This will enable you to build advanced applications that scale across editions and cloud as you grow. Developers and application partners can now build to a single programming surface when creating or upgrading intelligent applications, and use the edition which scales to the application's needs."

What this means is that with the release of SP1, features like row-level security and dynamic data masking – capabilities only offered in the more-expensive Enterprise version -- will be available in its Standard, Wev, LocalDB and Express versions. Paying for the upgraded versions of SQL Server 2016 will now only grant users better performance and compatibility with specific hardware.

Along with the uniform feature set among all versions, Microsoft is also bringing new features and changes to its platform. Some of the highlights include:

  • Database cloning. Microsoft said this new feature was designed for analyzing specific databases by making a copy of the schema, statistics and metadata, and excluding the actual data. The company notes that this feature isn't made to clone an existing database for production, but for testing and troubleshooting.
  • Create or alter controls. This will allow users to deploy or modify stored procedures, user-defined functions, views and triggers. Microsoft noted that this was one of the most requested feature by the public.
  • USE HINT query option. This new query option will change the query optimizer behavior to take in account nine query level hints, including DISABLE_OPTIMIZED_NESTED_LOOP, FORCE_LEGACY_CARDINALITY_ESTIMATION and DISABLE_PARAMETER_SNIFFING, to name a few.
  • Support for tempdb. SQL Server 2016 SP1 will include an error log message notifying the number, sizes and autogrowth of tempdb files.
  • Improved AlwaysOn latency diagnostics and manual change tracking cleanup.

The full set of improved and added features can be found here.

SQL Server 2016 SP1 will also include a rollup of all the cumulative updates, up to the November release. The service pack can be downloaded directly from Microsoft Download Center.

In other SQL Server 2016 news from the Connect() conference, the company announced that its Linux version of SQL Server database software, which entered closed preview in March, is now available for public preview.

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for Redmondmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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