SQL Server 2008 Express Edition is a fantastic option for those seeking the power of a full-featured relational database but with low performance requirements. It replaces the Microsoft Data Engine (MSDE) as the free version of SQL Server for application development and lightweight use. It remains free and retains the limitations of MSDE with respect to client connections and performance. It’s a great tool for developing and testing applications and extremely small implementations, but that’s about as far as you can run with it.
SQL Server 2008 Express has the following features and limitations:
- Limited to one CPU
- Limited to 1GB of RAM
- Database size limited to 4GB
- Does not offer database mirroring
- Does not offer log shipping
- Does not allow merge publication
- Does not offer Oracle replication
- Does not provide the Database Tuning Advisor, SQL Agent or SQL Profiler
- Does not offer SQL Server Analysis Services or Advanced Analytics
Another option for database developers is SQL Server 2008 Developer Edition. Unlike Express Edition, Developer Edition has no limitations on database size, performance characteristics or functionality. However, it’s only licensed for use by a single developer in a non-production development environment. Translated: you may use it for your own use in developing applications, but you may not allow others to access either the database or those applications. Before you put the applications into production, you must transfer the database to a fully licensed version of SQL Server.
The good news is that you can purchase SQL Server 2008 Developer Edition for less than $50. The street price of this product runs around $42.
If neither of these products meets your needs, you’ll want to consider one of the advanced editions of SQL Server, such as Standard, Enterprise or Workgroup edition. Good luck getting started with Microsoft SQL Server!