SQL Server 2005 beta 2 is now available for MSDN subscribers on the MSDN website. Although it’s not yet listed in the “what’s hot” section, it’s available under Servers/SQL Server/SQL Server 2005. I’ve got a few initial observations upon downloading it and installing it.

1. Read the readme file (ReadmeSQL2005.htm). Although this usually goes without saying, there are some common installation considerations in there that can save you time or even a reinstall (e.g., Changing the Service Account is not yet supported).

2. Read the known issues file (sqlki.sql). It’s worth giving it a quick read to start, and, if something you’ve heard was going to be in beta 2 doesn’t work the way you think it should have, go back to this file as a “first resort”.

3. When installing SQL Server 2005 Beta 2 and Visual Studio Beta 1 together, realize they have slightly different versions of the .NET CLR. Beta 2 has 40607.42, VS Beta 1 has 40607.16. They’re compatible, but you have to run the .42 version of the CLR. Check the readme for details.

4. The SQL Express version that shipped with Visual Studio Beta 1 is not Beta 2. I’ve already discovered one difference; SQL Express can use “FOR XML” with user-defined-type columns, in Beta 2 this produces an “unsupported” error message. There is a newer version of SQL Express released on MSDN subscriptions…or install the Developer’s Edition of Beta 2.

Have fun…