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Crucial SQL Server 2005 service pack ships

SQL Server 2005 SP2, which is required for use with Vista and Office 2007, is now ready for downloading.

One reason IT managers might have held off from installing Microsoft's new Vista desktop operating system has been a lack of support by SQL Server 2005 in its Enterprise Edition.

Microsoft rectified that problem this week with the release of SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 2. Among other things, this service pack provides support for the new desktop operating system as well as the Office 2007 suite.

The company said it will also expand its virtualization rights to allow unlimited virtual instances on servers fully licensed for SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition.

For example, if a company had a two-CPU machine and both CPUs were licensed for SQL Server, now an IT shop can run, say, six virtual machines on those two processors for the price of the two licenses, said Francois Ajenstat, director of SQL Server product management at Microsoft. "Prior to this, you would have had to pay for the six instances on that machine," Agenstat said.

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The release of the service pack is crucial to Microsoft in terms of its importance in getting users to upgrade to Vista. It's also important for those who build or run applications that require local databases.

SQL Server 2005 no longer supports the Microsoft Data Engine (MSDE), which was the previous version based on SQL Server 2000. Vista will not support MSDE. Until this week, Vista only supported SQL Server 2005 Express Edition SP1.

Independent software vendors embed SQL Server in their applications, and for most large enterprises, SQL Server Express Edition does not have the scale that those customers require.

"Its great news that this service pack has come out," said Nelson Ruest, a principal at Resolutions Enterprises, a Victoria, B.C., Canada-based consulting firm.

But today, ISVs that are using the SQL Server Express Edition, for Vista compatibility, will now have to test SQL Server SP2 to make sure it works with their other software, Ruest explained.

Some other key features in this service pack are improvements to its data mining that allow SQL Server Analysis Services to be used directly within Microsoft Office Excel 2007 and Microsoft Office Visio 2007. Also, SQL Server Reporting Services is now integrated with Office SharePoint Server 2007.

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