Microsoft offers preview of SQL Server 2005

Microsoft is offering a peek at its much-delayed next-generation SQL Server 2005 database by serving up an interim version of the product to interested customers.

"As part of the company's efforts to work more closely with you during the product development cycle, the SQL Server team has made the decision to release Community Technical Previews for SQL Server 2005 starting today," Paul Flessner, senior vice president of Microsoft's server platform division, wrote in an e-mail to beta testers on Friday.

The next major beta release of SQL Server, Version 3, is scheduled for the first quarter of next year. Version 2 was released in July.

These interim previews, the e-mail states, "will enable you to test and experiment with new features as they are added to the product without having to wait for the next beta. Your involvement during the development cycle will ensure that we ship a better product."

The interim release was done with the intention of driving "more consistent feedback," said Tom Rizzo, director of product marketing. "Customers don't have to wait however many months to look and see what's happening."

The final product is scheduled to ship mid next year, Rizzo said.

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