For the past couple of years, the early betas of SQL Server 2005 were very limited and even the events were somewhat limited – limited primarily to large customers under NDA, MVPs, RDs, and very dedicated SQL Server specialists. So far, only the SQL Express 2005 Edition made it on microsoft.com for download (click here if you’re interested in SQL Express and the SQL Express Manager downloads)…


SQL Server Beta 2 and soon SQL Server Beta 3 have had slightly wider distribution, even being handed out to SQL Server conference attendees (such as at now PAST SQL Connections conference in Orlando), etc. but in most cases you need to have your own clean machine to install on and play with and you really need to have a completely spare machine as you don’t want to impact any of your production and/or otherwise critical applications. For some, this meant not installing it at all.


If you’re still waiting to get your hands on it, you have a new option! The SQL team has created a virtual lab environment.


Below is the promotional blurb I received. And, I decided to check it out for a second. When you click you’ll need to install an ActiveX control, register and then login. Once logged in, you’ll select your lab environment and then they will “build it”. Once selected, you’ll have 90 minutes to complete the lab (and you can only enter one lab at a time) and you can download/print your lab manual (pdf format) to help you along. The feel is very similar to using Virtual PC and the build that was used in the labs I entered – was the December CTP of SQL Server (IDW 11). The current beta on Beta Place (for SQL Server 2005 Beta Subscribers is the February CTP which is IDW 13). Performance in my quick look around (of menu items, SSMS, etc.) seemed pretty good but I also have a decent internet connection. I started this process but didn’t actually complete a lab yet… it’s certainly worth checking out! Now you don’t even need to install it yourself, you can use a Virtual Lab environment. If you do check it out – good or bad – let me know!


*************************************************


Are you ready to experience SQL Server 2005?


Announcing the launch of the SQL Server 2005 Virtual Hands on labs. In these labs, you will get to experience many of the new features in SQL Server 2005 including CLR integration, XML support and deep business intelligence integration.


Just follow the link and experience SQL Server 2005 for yourself!


Registration link:
http://msdn.demoservers.com/login.aspx?group=sql2005


*************************************************