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Microsoft: SQL Server 2008 R2 will be generally available this month.

While the Microsoft Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 launches on May 12 are garnering the most attention right now, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 will also become generally available this month.

"As we announced in January 2010, SQL Server 2008 R2 is still on target for availability by May and will be on the May price list," a Microsoft spokesperson said by e-mail.

The Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 CTP released around the beginning of the year was feature-complete, with subsequent testing designed to iron out bugs in the final feature set.

R2 signals that Redmond considers this version of SQL Server to have incremental improvements. Highlighted features include a self-service BI capability using PowerPivot and complex event processing support using a feature called StreamInsight. Two new product offerings also will be rolled out: a Datacenter SKU and a Parallel Data Warehouse SKU.

"Business intelligence features are the most compelling thing about R2 and will probably drive most upgrades," said Rob Helm, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, in an e-mail interview. "The business intelligence [BI] features address both ends of the spectrum. PowerPivot will enable departments to set up smaller-scale BI systems for expert Excel users, while Madison will enable SQL Server to tackle the highest-end data warehouses."

Microsoft has also been putting out the word that SQL Server 2008 R2 will entail a price increase for customers who lack Software Assurance (SA). SA is a licensing option that lets users upgrade to the next product iteration at no extra cost over the SA contract's time span -- if a new product is released within that time span.

"The price per processor license for 2008 R2 Standard Edition will increase 25 percent," said Lesley Rubin, a Microsoft partner marketing manager for the U.S. Central Region. "For the R2 Enterprise Edition, the price per processor will increase 15 percent. For both editions, server CAL licensing will remain flat. This price increase will take effect upon General Availability of R2 this May."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.