Stay Tuned For SQL Server 2005 R2

The news comes just a week after Microsoft rolled out SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 2 (SP2). The Redmond, Wash., software giant declined to comment on a SQL Server 2005 R2 release.

In Microsoft parlance, R2 releases roll up service pack additions to the product plus some new features. The first major R2 was for Windows Server 2003.

What exactly the feature enhancements will be for SQL Server 2005 R2 is unclear, although there will be synchronization with the "Longhorn" Windows Server beta. SQL Server 2005 SP2 added support for the new Windows Vista client and bundled the new embedded database version.

A bigger focus on the SQL Server 2005 R2 is updating the code to work with evolving infrastructure. Hence, the rollout likely will come in the same time frame as the anticipated Windows Server Beta 3, sources said. Some expect the Longhorn beta to surface within a month, while others said it likely will be linked to one of Microsoft's big events, such as WinHEC or Tech Ed later in the spring.

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VARs said that nurturing compatibility between various pieces of the Microsoft software stack is becoming more critical -- and problematic.

"Things have gotten so complicated that Microsoft had to build a tool that told each product group which versions of what will play together. They have to get things back on a more harmonized track," said one solution provider, who requested anonymity. "The major challenge is to keep all the products and their dependencies in some sort of order. With a dozen flavors of several core products -- and more SKUs to come as the product groups package things up differently for different segments -- there will be more confusion before this gets brought under control, if it ever does."

Database specialists in the channel said Microsoft aims to make good on more timely, less disruptive database releases. "They know the lag between SQL Server 2000 and SQL Server 2005 killed them," said another solution provider partner. "They're trying to halve that."

In that scenario, SQL Server 2005 R2 would be a way station between the current SQL Server 2005 and the next "big bang" release, aka Katmai. And if that proves to be the plan, Katmai likely will start seeing beta testing by the fall, solution providers said.

Partners said a cone of silence has been lowered around Katmai since Microsoft began hinting about it two years ago. At that time, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said the WinFS file system would be part of the Katmai wave.

UPDATE: On Friday, the Microsoft spokesman who would not comment previously said via e-mail that there "is no R2."

He said Microsoft would not comment on specific dates but said the next release of SQL Server will be "a major release."

"During that cycle, you'll continue to see service packs, that keep customers up to date on fixes and enhancements," the spokesman said.

Informed of this statement, the original source said his latest information was that there would be an R2, but that "confusion reigns."