Another Vista Wrinkle: Latest Database Required

Though it's not widely known, Vista and the even more distant "Longhorn" Windows Server will support SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 2 and later. SP2 is due to ship soon after Vista to ensure compatibility. Microsoft maintains that Vista remains on course for general availability early next year.

Late last month, Microsoft posted FAQs and information on database requirements for Vista on its site, but the information may have been lost in the summer doldrums. While this wasn't exactly a state secret, many in the database community were caught unaware. The latest newsletter from the SQL Server Worldwide Users Group (SSWUG) touted the news this week.

Of particular concern is the fact that there will be no support of the older Microsoft Desktop Engine (MSDE), a small, embeddable version of older SQL Server releases. Many customers may have MSDE running and not even know it.

One east coast database VAR said not to underestimate this problem. "This is a major issue. Most people have not paid much attention to the new operating systems [yet] - why should they even think about things like the database?" he said.

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Microsoft maintains that upgrades to SQL Server 2005 have been robust. The company in its latest earnings call said its database business grew 35 percent year over year, which indicates that there's a lot of the new database out there. But VARs say there are many applications still running on older SQL Server 2000 and earlier releases of the database.

It's likely that many of those users wouldn't necessarily rush into an operating system upgrade. But if they are, they will need to take several factors into account.

SQL Server 2005 shipped in November 2005, and SP1 was released in April. One consideration for cutting off support for older SQL Server 2000 SKUs, including the MSDE, is that those versions don't support Windows Update Services and can't be patched automatically, as the successor database can. And in SQL Server 2005, MSDE has been supplanted by SQL Server Express.

Users wanting to continue with SQL Server 2000--presumably running on older operating systems--can do so under standard support until November 2007. Extended support, which carries an additional charge, continues for 10 years.

Customers running SQL Server 2000 on Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003 who want to update are advised to run trial versions of SQL Server 2005 and Windows Vista Beta 2 to test applications. Then they would need to upgrade their databases to SQL Server 2005 SP1 and then upgrade to Vista.

This story was updated Thursday morning with additional information about MSDE and VAR comment.