Microsoft has released for download its community technology preview (CTP) for SQL Server 2005 service pack 2, which will arrive in Australia in the first quarter of 2007.
The company is encouraging customers to download the preview, which upgrades all editions of SQL Server 2005 to SP2 except Express Edition, and to test and provide feedback on the software.
The CTP includes Windows Vista support, Office 2007 data mining functionality from SSAS (SQL server analysis services) to be used within Excel and Visio 2007, Oracle support for Report Builder and SSAS improvements for Excel 2007 and Excel Services, as well as Hyperion support with SSRS.
Microsoft Australia director of server and tools Martin Gregory said while the release candidate will be shipped early next year, the launch will be subject to customer feedback.
"The final version will ship shortly after the launch of Windows Vista and Office, however we will ship it only when our customers tell us it is ready, but we are currently on track for delivering this in the first quarter of 2007," Gregory said.
"We expect all customers who have deployed SQL Server 2005 to take on SP2."
He said adoption rates of the program in Australia are high and are expected to rise.
"Based on internal market research in Australia, SQL Server is the dominant server database platform in terms of the number of platforms deployed, as well as the proportion of database servers deployed on each platform," Gregory said.
"It is also the platform running the majority of mission critical applications for business.
"Adoption is strongest in the enterprise and midmarket segments."
According to Gregory, many consumers use SQL Server 2005 as a BI platform or to replace costly database management systems (DBMSs).
"Many customers adopt SQL Server either as their data management standard or to replace expensive DBMS's to run their line of business applications or BI platforms," he said.
Microsoft released SP1 in April, six months after SQL Server 2005's launch in October 2005.
SQL Server 2005 is expected to help Microsoft compete more effectively with IBM and Oracle.
"Our view is that it's now a substantial competitor to everyone else," said Ovum analyst David Bradshaw. "It's no longer the sort of toy database that you use for relatively small businesses."