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Yup, No SQL Server CE in Windows Phone 7

Yesterday's Windows Phone 7 launch extravaganza renewed the months-long debate among developers about database options--specifically, whether the new mobile OS should come with persistent local storage such as built-in SQL Server Compact Edition.

Microsoft's answer, of course, is go to the cloud. And if you don't want to do that, you can opt for a local storage alternative such as XML files, isolated storage or third-party embedded solutions such as Perst.

Besides the "The cloud is the answer. What's the question?" mentality in Redmond, many (even Microsoft people) have pointed out that Win Phone 7 targets consumers more than enterprises, so there is less need of any SQL Server.

Still, considering all the integration with other Microsoft technologies such as Xbox, Office and so on, it seems strange there's no stated intention to provide SQL Server in the future, like they're doing with copy-and-paste functionality. Surely Microsoft isn't going to ignore the enterprise market, and developers in the enterprise market have clearly stated their preference. Check out these comments from the debate mentioned above on an MSDN forum:

  • No database in WM7 Phones? This is ridiculous! 
  • With this I may stick into iPhone development.
  • Without real database support, a phone is just a portal device.  It will have very little value in itself, and will be easily replaced with the next shiny new portal device with a flashy UI.
  • This is indeed a step backward from WM 6.5. Why not implement Sql CE Compact? You cannot write real business application without database support and cannot presume that we live in an always connected world. Developers need database support ... Are you really considering not to implement it?
  • This doesn't make any sense, surely it can't be a huge undertaking to incorporate SQL Server Compact with its managed wrapper into Windows Phone 7?
  • We just started our project (2 months ago) to move to WM ... THE one deciding factor was SqlCe ... with that gone we will definitely regroup and probably move to Droid or iPhone before we throw any more resources after WM with no stated intentions!
  • I concur with everyone else...developers NEED database support on Windows Phone 7!

It's pretty obvious what mobile developers want. Is Microsoft listening?

What do you think? We'd love to hear your arguments, pro and con. Has anybody seen definitive indications that SQL Server CE is coming to Windows Phone 7? Comment here or drop me a line.

Posted by David Ramel on 10/12/2010 at 1:15 PM

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Reader Comments:

Thu, Jul 28, 2011 Nuno

Why should anyone need a database on a mobile? Give me a break. Even in WM6.5 when the decision was Data then XML files to Dataset did everything. Never needed SQL CE! Or do u want more stress with install, debug, less performance on the mobile? Keep It Simple!!!

Tue, Apr 5, 2011 Technica

We moved away from Microsofts Mobile Platform some time ago as it did not appear to be a serious commitment to our customers needs are our development requirements. We had almost made the switch back with Windows 7 Phone UNTIL we discovered thr lack of sql CE database support. Customers abjections to the cloud only push are real and the XML solution does not fit with many of our customers LOB application requirements. Every time Microsoft displays and ignorance to these customer requirements it makes our investment difficult to achieve. Needless to say we are not supporting this platform until some comitment to customer requirements are filled by Microsoft.

Wed, Dec 1, 2010 Tushar India

I have thoroughly used Sqlite in the past, it is complete, but lacks speed and has bugs, I discovered that Sqlite can't be used by even 3 Users doing long database operations at the same time. It just locks up. Now only yesterday, I finally realized and was shocked that Sql Server Compact Edition is a hidden magic tool, does all the things i dreamt of. Sql Server Compact Edition 3.5 is the best Embedded Database that you will ever find in the entire world. It is free! No bugs came ever with my handling of Sql CE. Tushar

Tue, Nov 30, 2010

In their rush to to get to the Cloud I think some people in Microsoft may have got lost in Cloud Cuckoo Land. To say that WP7 is aimed at consumers and therefore we are going to ignore its potential as a Business device is ludicrous bordering on insane. Who invests all that time and effort to develop a new platform that has the capability to target all sorts of markets and immediately cuts themselves off from a big chunk of that potential market. It's that kind of thinking, and worse marketing of that thinking, that no doubt has a big part to play in Microsoft's relatively low share price at the moment. To say "it's only for consumers", and then implement all that Office integration makes no sense - how many of that demographic have "Office Integration" at the top of their must-have feature lists? My hope is that it was just one more of those things that didn't meet the code-freeze for v1 and that Microsoft are a) Pushing their Cloud-Only model 'cause it's what they want us all to do (they've never been backwards at try to force us down paths they choose) b) Sounding us out to assess development priorities...if no one kicks-off then they can concentrate on something else... Much as I think the Cloud has it's uses being dependent on the Cloud for Mobile data storage is ludicrous. Even in the UK where we have pretty good network coverage (as measured against population) geographical cover is still very spotty and accessing my corporate web services/databases over GSM/GPRS is not an attractive proposition. Microsoft would be wise to look properly at what the competition are offering and aim to do at least as much if not more if they are to compete. You can't tell me that the iPhone is targeted primarily at the Business World, yet such basics as Cut/Copy/Paste, SQLLite, Cloud Access, etc are all there to use in whatever types of apps targeted as whatever kind of demographic you choose...why limit WP7's potential?

Sat, Nov 27, 2010 Pleasanton, CA

Connectivity issues and connectivity costs make the cloud a no-go for on phone database replacement. Not adding SQL Server to the stack is short-sighted, not visionary. Any developer who must have a database on Windows Phone 7 will find another, non-MS database. Many developers will turn away, either in disgust or in dismay, or both. Get a clue MS. Announce SQL Server CE for Windows Phone 7 ASAP. You are horribly thinning your future app pipeline by not whole-heartedly giving support to the busniness side. You have about 300K apps to go to catch up to the IPhone. But Android appears to be the new 800 pound gorilla anyway ... ok, only 100K apps to go then. Wake up and smell the Java.

Thu, Nov 25, 2010

If you compare earlier versions of the Windows Mobile operating system, you’ll see that Microsoft have systematically removed functionality. My first WM phone (an iMate) allowed you to draw pictures in Pocket Word. My last WM phone doesn’t even allow you copy and paste to and from textboxes. WP7 simply continues this pattern... and all this despite devices becoming more and more powerful.

Thu, Nov 25, 2010

WP7 is massively disappointing, but don't start believing Android is "open"... it ain't! E.g. Android doesn't allow multiple apps to access the same data file; or one to freely install apps without having to go through some app store. Although not a redeeming fact, at least Microsoft provide a superior development tool (a single no nonsense msi). Android’s IDE is a real nightmare.

Wed, Nov 17, 2010 Cris

This is exactly the reason that put me going toward iPhone and Android development ... i use sqlite.

Thu, Nov 4, 2010 Panya

I think MS should bring those smart guys from Azure and ASP.NET MVC team back to Silverlight and Windows Phone project immediately. You'd enough fun time playing with a no real business value technologies. This is the real direction windows platform developers are heading. I predict that Cloud will be another big mistake from Microsoft, do you remember .NET Passport?

Thu, Nov 4, 2010 Steve LA

Database support is crucial to any platform, and especially with any silverlight platform. SQL CE needs to be included as part of the application stack.

Thu, Nov 4, 2010

SQL CE should be a component that can be packaged it with an application install easily for those creating applications for their Business. I can see MS not wanting to take up space on the phone for the SQL CE program or memory if the user has no need for it. So, it should be installable separately and uninstallable (is that another made up word).

Thu, Oct 28, 2010 Thorne Austin

Point to ponder.
1.Windows CE did not support sql at first either. 2. MS has made a Huge commitment to "Cloud" computing so they are running a trial balloon up to see if we all want to commit to having our apps rely on somebody else. 3. If MS doesn't come up with an RDBM, somebody will ( of course then MS will release SQL for Phone 7 and whoever spent all that money on developing one will lose their shirt like on 100's of other products that used to be out there and are now free from MS) 4. MS has spent a lot of money on supporting the "Free" development of Phone 7 apps so they can make their 30%, so they will not ultimately neglect to have a RDBM.

Our company is going to wait until the phone has a complete suite of capabilities before we sink a lot of money into it.

Of course this is the same scenario ( or pretty close ) to what happened with CE phones. We all waited for SQL CE and by the time it was available other phones were seen as cooler.

Fri, Oct 22, 2010 ProjectManager Tumwater, Wa

The first release of WinPhone7 seems to be featured against Apple. The next release should be targeted at RIM including a release of VS2010 and SQL. The phone OS is in flash. I expect all of WinPhone7 was not ready for prime time. MS has stated linking the MS phone to MS business applications is a goal.

Thu, Oct 21, 2010 José switzerland

Mobile / Compact Division at MS is really lost in the middle of nowhere. First VS2010 without support for Windows CE... now the best... NO support for SQL Server CE on WM 7. Baaaaaad Joke! Bill, you should come back!

Wed, Oct 20, 2010 Twain Los Angeles

The first canard that must be shot down is the notion that only "business" applications can benefit from SQL CE, while "consumer" applications don't need a rich, solid database solution. Bull$#!+. That notion is a complete artifice. Microsoft should just admit that providing SQL CE for WP7 is inconsistent with their "cloud" business goals. Then at least their statements about the lack of SQL CE on WP7 will be much more transparent.

Tue, Oct 19, 2010 Russ Olympia

Wow!! first no cut and past, then no running multiple apps at the same time, and now no database. Is Microsoft trying to make this fail? I really want to write apps for the new phone, but they are making it hard to justify my time and investment in the phone. Can I write apps for the droid using .net?

Sat, Oct 16, 2010

Why don't guys evaluate an object database for WP7 such as db4o? Is it relational technology really mandatory? Best

Fri, Oct 15, 2010 Pittsburgh

Sounds like the marketing folks are making the decisions again. They must think that if there's no DB on the device, it will drive sales of the cloud services. VERY disappointing as putting all your data in XML or flat files is a non-starter for me, and I'm sure that and no PIM data access will severely limit many of the cool home-brewed applications that could have been written. It's a shame the XBox team is reaching out to the independent developers while the Mobile group is making it tougher on them.

Fri, Oct 15, 2010

Not worth investing the time. Perhaps by version 3 they will have their game together. Would expect the release of OS improvements to follow the speed of the silverlight releases 4 of them in less than three years. Problem though is phone contracts are 2 years max and if the other devices already support the functionality then why buy a lesser device. This definitely sets things back for using these as business phones and good luck with loyalty to the phone in the consumer marketplace. Going to order that droid book now.

Thu, Oct 14, 2010 Cobalt Software Systems Boise, ID

For a while we were considering WM 7 apps for our clients. This news actually solidifies the argument against it. Sounds like Droid will be the platform of the future.

Thu, Oct 14, 2010 SplendidCRM Software North Carolina

We are evaluating EffiProz as an embedded database and we like what we see. It meets all our tough database requirements, such as stored procedures and views, and it runs on the iPhone as well as Windows Phone 7.

Thu, Oct 14, 2010

wp7 without a database is just so incomplete esp in the development of data-centric application on the mobile.

Thu, Oct 14, 2010 Christian Germany

That's a kick in the guts, that one. Combined with the inability to use PIM data on the phone, it makes development really difficult. One can only hope microsoft is wise enough to change that fast...

Wed, Oct 13, 2010 JF New England

I had a long, 2.5 hour phone conversation with a Microsoft researcher about two weeks ago. She had contacted me in regards to our company's WP7 development efforts, and how that was working out. I stated flat out that I needed to know if SQL/CE was planned for the platform, as the one application we were porting from the web was a robust business app that needed relational DB support. Currently the UI and middleware is being developed with XML, which is a complete and utter nightmare. She stated she wasn't sure, but would get back to me quickly. That was two weeks ago. I gather that this is my answer. Reminds me of the MOSS 2010 bug I found in the Spring on integration with TFS. The 'case' was just closed last week, after six months of free-debugging time on our part and lots of finger pointing on the MSFT side. And of course, barely a thank you from MSFT. It sadly doesn't surprise me that MSFT can screw up a perfectly wonderful software/hardward combination in the WP7 by providing NO DB support. When these folks sit in meetings and talk about debriefings with development shops like ours, does anyone at all listen? Do they care? Do they come even close to understanding what the nature of business is?

Wed, Oct 13, 2010 Jim

Proof positive that Microsoft still doesn't grasp the importance of a full commitment to a mobile platform. Shame!!!

Wed, Oct 13, 2010 Phil

I live right above Microsoft. I "was" looking forward to wm7, silverlight and line of business applications. You can use sqlite everywhere else but no database at all on wm7 sounds like the death knell for Microsofts mobile division. Android it is then.

Wed, Oct 13, 2010 Vollie SF

There are just so many holes in Windows Phone 7. It's just not worth the trouble. There is no way any enterprise software will be coming to the platform. It just won't happen. No database APIs missing. You can't even access the PIM. That would have been a simple one for MS to remedy, but they didn't.

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