Microsoft made available for download on September 20 a Customer Technology Preview (CTP) test build of a first update to its SQL Server 2012, the latest version of its database.
Microsoft released to manufacturing SQL Server 2012 in March of this year. The product was made generally available in April 2012.
What's new in the coming Service Pack (SP) 1 for SQL Server 2012? Among theSP1 updates, according to the Microsoft download site:
AlwaysOn Availability Group OS Upgrade: Adds the capability to do Availability Group migration from a lower version of Windows Cluster to a higher version of Windows Cluster. This feature "can help customers to keep their SLA (Service Level Agreement) when upgrade their Windows Cluster operating systems," according to the download page.
Selective XML Index: Improvements to this feature, which allows users to promote certain paths from their XML documents that will be indexed. With SP1, users get a new type of XML index to SQL Server in addition to Primary XML Index (PXI), designed to provide better querying performance when indexing large XML data workloads.
Full SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) capabilities in Express versions: SQL Server 2012 SP1 Express Editions (SQL Server Express With Tools, SQL Server Express COMP, SQL Server Express with Advanced Services and SQL Server Management Studio Express will now ship the SSMS feature with functionalities that previously existed with the SSMS from Full Editions of SQL Server.
SlipStream Full installation: SlipStream provides customers a pre-built “Slipstream image” consists of a compressed self-extracting .exe and a ‘.box’ payload file that contains a SQL Server 2012 RTM release-to-manufacturing) image, along with the most recent Service Pack.
SharePoint Server 2013 Preview support: Adds ability to share and collaborate on self-service business-intelligence (BI) assets via SharePoint Server 2013 Preview and SQL Server 2012 SP1.
Microsoft also has made available a handful of service updates to its Windows Azure SQL Azure cloud database this week. Included among those features is SQL Server support for Linked Server and Distributed Queries against Windows Azure SQL Database.