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Microsoft's SQL Server 2008 R2 aims high (and low)

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Microsoft's SQL Server 2008 R2 will be available for download for the company's TechNet and MSDN subscribers from 3 May, while customers worldwide will get their hands on the database software from 13 May.

The release itself was 20 months in the making and is, in effect, a fairly minor upgrade to SQL Server 2008.

The company's Business Intelligence general manager Tom Casey made a big deal of the PowerPivot feature, which Microsoft has slotted into this version of the popular database software that competes with Oracle and IBM offerings.

He pointed out that users wanting to take full advantage of that feature would first need to have copies of Excel 2010 and SharePoint 2010 running on their systems.

"Consider that there are more than 500 million users of Microsoft Office in the world," said Casey, who was clearly keen to flog Redmond's upcoming suite of productivity apps.

"And imagine now the impact if we can deliver the right information and user experience to just five per cent more of those users, that's 25 million new BI users and countless people with an opportunity to make better informed decisions with their work everyday. That's the difference."

He said that "self service BI" was as good a reason as any for businesses to consider adopting SQL Server 2008 R2. Excel 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010 both have PowerPivot add-ins for the database and have been specifically designed to speed up data sharing and publishing among users.

But at the same time it also has the potential to lock customers into a Microsoft-only world, even while one of the firm's featured customers speaking today were happy to admit that they were currently mostly operating as an "Oracle shop".

Casey also bigged up what he described as new editions of the database software - SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse - which the company recently delayed; and Microsoft's Data Centre edition that allows customers to run databases on systems with up to 256 logical processors.

As we reported earlier this month, the data warehousing version of the software had been due for release in the first half of 2010. Since then Microsoft said it would announce “more specific timing” along with final configurations and pricing for hardware partners in “early summer.”

Microsoft didn't reveal anymore about that version today, however. ®

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