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Will SQL Server 2008 Slip Again?

With Microsoft's announcement late last week that it will release SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 3 (SP3) this summer, it begs the question: What's the status of SQL Server 2008?

Officially, it's still on track to be released to manufacturing in the third quarter and Microsoft officials say nothing has changed on that front. But some say they won't be surprised if the RTM actually slips again into the fourth quarter.

"The rumors I hear still say August or September," says Andrew Brust, chief of new technology at twentysix New York and founder of the NYC .NET User Group, answering a question at last week's meeting in New York. But "my gut, just judging by the stability of the latest [community technology preview] is that it's going to get pushed back another quarter."

Brust, who led last week's meeting emphasized his opinion was not based on any tangible knowledge, but he is author of the book Programming SQL Server 2005, and is co-authoring the sequel, Programming SQL Server 2008, with his colleague Lenni Loebel.

"It's all just gut and feel, I do think they will make it out this year, the name compels them to do so," Brust told the group of about 100 developers.

Feeding the speculation that it may slip is the number of bugs that still exist and the time developers need to test some of the new features that are slowly being added to the CTPs, said Joshua Jones, principal of Denver-based Consortia Services, in an e-mail to me.

"If we can't thoroughly test the features, a lot of us are going to be reluctant to endorse the features or implement the features in our own environments," Jones said.

"Additionally, there have been plenty of bugs and a lack of documentation around some new features that make us think we might be running into potential showstoppers," he added. "Of course, they could, at the least minute, choose to remove 'incomplete' features from the RTM and make them available in SP1 for SQL 2008 (a la database mirroring in SQL 2005)."

Francois Ajenstat, Microsoft's director of SQL Server marketing did not respond to an e-mail, but a spokesman says SQL Server 2008 is scheduled to RTM in the third quarter. Regarding any bugs, he aptly says do make sure to report them all so they can be fixed.

Brust told developers not to get too upset if it does actually slip. "They need to be real careful about this," Brust said. "It's not a major, major update in terms of the developer features but there are a lot of data warehouse features and optimizations to make it work faster, and if those things only work most of the time we will have a disaster. I think it's normal and a good thing for the database to suffer a few intermediate setbacks so don't get upset about it."

Meanwhile Jones welcomed the news that there will be a SQL Server 2005 SP3. "Of course, there's not much detail about what will be in the SP, but I think this is a huge step in maintaining good standing with customers," Jones wrote in his blog. "While many people jumped at the chance to go from SQL Server 2000 to 2005, the jump to 2008 will be a little more hesitant, mostly because of the difficulty in moving database platforms in production environments. Hopefully, this SP will give people a 'longer life' in SQL 2005, while giving them the opportunity to more carefully evaluate SQL Server 2008."

What are you finding? Please let me know.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 04/23/2008

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