Microsoft: SQL Server 2008 R2 crosses the finish line

Microsoft: SQL Server 2008 R2 crosses the finish line

Summary: Microsoft is announcing the release to manufacturing (RTM) of SQL Server 2008 R2 on April 21. In fact, the product actually RTM'd a week ago, about a week ahead of schedule, said Tom Casey, General Manager of Microsoft Business Intelligence. Here's who gets what, when.


Microsoft is announcing the release to manufacturing (RTM) of SQL Server 2008 R2 on April 21.

In fact, the product actually RTM'd a week ago, about a week ahead of schedule, said Tom Casey, General Manager of Microsoft Business Intelligence. But the team held off until today to make the public announcement.

SQL Server 2008 R2 is like Windows Server 2008 R2 in that it is a supposedly "minor" R2 version, but includes an awful lot of new features and functionality. In spite of that fact, SQL Server 2008 R2 doesn't include any upgrades to the core database itself, so it's still technically a minor R2 release, not a major one, Casey noted.

SQL Server 2008 R2 has been just over two years in the making.  A select number of SQL Server customers were consulted for feedback from the earliest development stages to make sure Microsoft was addressing their pain points. And they gave it, said one of those customers, Ayad Shammout, Lead Technical DBA at CareGroup, who said he advocated for more user-friendly data-import and reporting tools.

While the R2 release offers a little something for everyone, "the thing that defined this release, from the beginning, was PowerPivot," Casey said.

PowerPivot is technology designed to enable the "self-service business intelligence" scenarios that MIcrosoft has been highlighting as major selling points for the newest versions of its SQL Server and SharePoint Server. The PowerPivot for Excel 2010 add-in for SQL Server 2008 R2, when used in conjunction with SharePoint, is designed to allow users to slice, dice and publish/share data more quickly and easily. (And gives the Softies another in for selling SharePoint to more customers.)

But there were lots of other features added to Microsoft's newest database release that weren't part of the original "Kilimanjaro" plan, Casey acknowledged. As a result, new SQL Server 2008 R2 features like Master Data Services and StreamInsight complex event processing, which were ready and able to take advantage of new hardware advances, yet weren't  going to break backward compatibility, they made the cut, he said.

(Speaking of the Kilimanjaro codename, Casey admitted he is no codename fan, but gave in to popular team demand. SQL Server Partner Product Unit Manager Kamal Hathi, who proposed "Kilimanjaro" -- which was in keeping with the SQL Server team's "national parks" codename theme -- ended up climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and hoisting a homemade "SQL Server 2008 R2" banner to celebrate.)

The free, low-end SQL Server 2008 R2 Express release is available for download today. Most of the versions of SQL Server 2008 R2 will be made available in May. (The high-end Parallel Data Warehouse is the one exception.)

MSDN and TechNet subscribers will be able to download R2 Data Center, Enterprise, Standard, Workgroup and Developer (in English only) as of May 3. Volume licensing downloads will be available in 11 languages starting May 3. The trial bits are available as of April 21.

Microsoft is planning a "launch" for SQL Server 2008 R2, but officials still won't say when or where. I've been thinking it might launch on or around May 12, given that's the Office 2010/SharePoint 2010 launch date. But so far, mum's the word.

What's up next on the database front? SQL Server "Denali" (a k a SQL Server 2011/2012).

Topics: Microsoft, Data Centers, Data Management, Enterprise Software, Software


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • DreamSpark

    Wish they'd give DreamSpark students a version that they can use in production. Express is there and Developer edition is an overkill for student.
  • RE: Microsoft: SQL Server 2008 R2 crosses the finish line

    SQL Server 2008 R2 is definitely going to be a "skip"
    release for us. It's almost beyond belief that MSFT has
    been working for over two years on a database product
    that contains almost no changes to the core database or
    Management Studio areas.

    Instead, MSFT have devoted all their resources to
    pandering to the needs of the top 1% of the market by
    focusing on analytics etc. rather than bread and butter
    core database features.
    Dan Smith:
    • Skip for you, huge gain for others

      1. "devoted all resources" is said too hard. Analysis Services, Reporting Services and maybe some others have been devoted totally to pushing PowerPivot (BI platform). The SQL Engine team was busy doing their stuff
      2. Where is the 1% number coming from? PowerPivot is intented for users who actively use Excel on daily basis, which is a large audience

      Try it out, you won't be disappointed. Doing simple reports/tasks on small-medium databases just got extremely easy!

      P.S. As a member of Analysis Servcies team my opinion is biased by default.
      • Skewed Priorities

        Admittedly my 1% figure was just a guess. I suppose I should've gathered gigs of data on user priorities and analysed it with PowerPivot!

        Seriously though, isn't it a bit bizarre to have almost no changes to the real guts (database) of the product?

        Obviously I don't have access to your internal priority list, but we can all see the real world priorities people are voting for on Connect. Other than service pack requests, almost all the top 100 requests are for core database features, T-SQL language features etc.

        What about bug fixes? Has the #1 most voted for bug that's been open for over 2 years been fixed in R2? See here:
        Dan Smith: