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Why Wait for Updates? SQL Server 2016 Shifts into Rapid Preview

Less than a month after the first public preview of SQL Server 2016, Microsoft has released an update that for the first time puts the flagship relational database into "rapid preview" cadence.

The counterpart cloud offering, Microsoft Azure, has already been following the model of releasing quicker Community Technology Previews (CTPs), and now the on-premises SQL Server 2016 is following suit.

"With the release of SQL Server 2016 CTP 2.1, for the first time customers can experience the rapid preview model for their on-premises SQL Server 2016 development and test environments," exec Tiffany Wissner said in a blog post yesterday. "This born in the cloud model means customers don't have to wait for traditional CTPs that are released after several months for the latest updates from Microsoft engineering, and can gain a faster time to production. The frequent updates are also engineered to be of the same quality as traditional major CTPs, so customers don't have to be concerned about build quality. "

Microsoft also released previews and general availability releases of several other data-related products, including SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), which for the first time gets its own preview release separate from the main SQL Engine release cadence. "Our goal is to update this frequently with new features, fixes and support for the newest SQL Server features in SQL Server Engine and Azure SQL Database," the SQL Server engineering team announced in another blog post yesterday. The standalone SSMS has also adopted the rapid preview model.

In the SQL Server 2016 CTP 2.1 (version 2.0 was the first public preview, despite what the versioning number suggests), the Stretch Database functionality introduced last month has been improved. It archives historical data in the Azure cloud, silently migrating it to an Azure SQL Database.

Other functionality was also improved, concerning: Query Store, which deals with the handling of historical query plans; Temporal, which lets users handle and analyze database records as they're changed over time; and Columnstore Index, which received performance boosts in seek functionality and scanning of partitioned tables. More details on these improvements are available in yet another blog post published yesterday.

For the new standalone SSMS, key improvements include: a new lightweight Web installer; automatic update monitoring; fixes in response to top customer requests concerning row editing, Table Designer and database and table property dialogs; a new option to skip the prompt asking users if they want to save T-SQL files; updated import/export wizards; and bug fixes to improve support for Azure SQL Database.

Other preview and general availability releases (you guessed it, detailed in yet another blog post) include:

  • The Limited Public Preview of Azure SQL Data Warehouse.
  • General availability of Azure AD Connect and Connect Health.
  • General availability of Azure Application Gateway.
  • Microsoft Intune Conditional Access and Mobile Application Management for the Outlook app.
  • General availability of the new Microsoft Power BI Content Pack and connector.
  • General availability of Key Vault across all regions (except Australia).

Microsoft invited users to download the SQL Server 2016 preview or test it via an Azure virtual machine (VM) and provide feedback on their experiences.

Posted by David Ramel on 06/25/2015 at 8:33 AM

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