Microsoft Releases SQL Server 2012

SQL Server 2012 now available for purchase.

Microsoft released SQL Server 2012 yesterday but didn't make the announcement until today, possibly to avoid any April Fools misunderstanding. Microsoft says the product is now at the "general availability" stage, meaning the final product can be purchased. 

Users interested in purchasing the product can follow this link in the next six months to download an evaluation copy of SQL Server 2012 , which can be upgraded to the paid version. The evaluation copy's release date is 3/6/12; a Microsoft spokesperson said that the files haven't changed since its release -- the only difference is that now the product is available for sale.

Customers on the Software Assurance plan or those wishing to purchase SQL Server 2012 outright need to reach their partner representative or Microsoft agent or obtain it from the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center. Microsoft TechNet and MSDN subscribers will only have access to the Evaluation edition. "TechNet and MSDN subscribers have access to evaluation bits and can purchase the final product through volume licensing," a spokesperson explained via e-mail.

Microsoft notably switched to core-based licensing with the release of SQL Server 2012. For organizations with more than four cores per processor, this switch likely will mean higher prices, at least for those organizations that want to run the new Enterprise edition.

Microsoft also changed the product editions with this release. The Enterprise edition is now the top-of-the-line product that includes "unlimited" virtualization rights. The BI edition is new and is designed for organizations interested in using Microsoft's business intelligence improvements in SQL Server 2012. Microsoft also offers a Standard edition.  A feature comparison is available here. For an overview of SQL Server features, read this article.

In addition to the evaluation edition, Microsoft offers a free SQL Sever 2012 Express edition for lightweight use, which can be downloaded here.

A specific version of SQL Server 2012 is designed just for developers; it is called LocalDB. This LocalDB developer version is based on SQL Server 2012 Express but it has a richer feature set and is designed so that developers won't have to maintain SQL Server 2012 Express, according to a Microsoft blog entry. Microsoft also plans to offer a Compact edition of SQL Server 2012, which has greater limitations on binary file sizes compared with LocalDB, according to the blog. The Microsoft Download Center has lots of SQL Server 2012 components listed, but downloads for LocalDB and Compact editions could not be seen at press time.

Microsoft's newest relational database system can be installled on "Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2, [and] Windows Vista Service Pack 2," according to the requirements. However, some people have experimented with it on the Windows Server 8 beta.

About the Author

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