The first release candidate of SQL Server 2012, formerly called Denali, has been released.  Though Microsoft notes several changes from CTP3 in terms of reliability and efficiency, there have been almost no changes since CTP3 to the database engine’s syntax.  (The lone change mentioned on MSDN is to XQuery functions – a language used for querying XML data.)

Now, this doesn’t mean that you need to go out and upgrade today (or, well, any time before the product is actually released) – but you should at least start thinking about it.  We have talked before about being aware of product support lifecycles.  When Microsoft ends mainstream support, it will no longer add new features and no longer provide no-charge support.  When extended support ends, Microsoft will no longer fix anything – even security issues.

SQL Server Version Mainstream Support Ends Extended Support Ends
7.0 12/31/2005 1/11/2011
2000 4/8/2008 4/9/2013
2005 4/12/2011 4/12/2016
2008 and 2008 R2 1/14/2014 1/8/2019

If you are still using SQL Server 2000, you should be very concerned and immediately planning for an upgrade.  There are numerous changes since 2000 and a number of features were removed or scheduled for removal in SQL Server 2005.  The most notable feature removal is that DTS packages have been slowly phased out and they are completely discontinued in SQL Server 2012.

One of the more important considerations for planning an upgrade to SQL Server 2012 is the list of “breaking changes”, meaning those changes that will cause your code not to work.  Some of the breaking changes you are most likely to encounter are:

  • ALTER TABLE no longer supports including a database name or linked server name (e.g. ALTER TABLE database.schema.table)
  • WITHIN is now a reserved word and objects named WITHIN must be bracketed.
  • The formula has changed for SOUNDEX, a function that SQL Server provides for fuzzy searching.

Photo credit: Jay Lopez

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