Users offered a free ride on Yukon Express

Microsoft has introduced a free, cut-down version of Yukon, the next version of its SQL Server database.

Microsoft has introduced a free, cut-down version of Yukon, the next version of its SQL Server database.

Although the full version is not due until the first quarter of 2005, Microsoft last week released SQL Server Express at its annual Europe Tech Ed conference in Amsterdam.

SQL Server 2005 Express, which is based on the beta version of Microsoft's SQL Server 2005 database engine, provides advanced query optimisation to deliver fast performance, Microsoft said. Express, like the full version of the software, also supports native XML inside the database.

Microsoft said, "Express ensures that your web environment can easily interoperate with other applications via web services."

Eric Rudder, senior vice-president of servers and tools at Microsoft, said, "With these Express products Microsoft is focused on serving the needs of the next generation of IT professionals."

Microsoft said SQL Server Express can plug into most enterprise management environments and supports Active Directory and Windows Management Instrumentation.

SQL Server Express can be downloaded from the Microsoft website free of charge.

Microsoft has also introduced a family of free Express developer products. These include Visual Web Developer 2005 Express, a lightweight tool for building dynamic websites and web services; and Express versions of Visual Basic 2005, Visual C# 2005, Visual C++ 2005 and Visual J# 2005.

* Microsoft has extended its MSDN software developer website with a set of tools and documentation to help users understand and develop IT strategies based on service-oriented architectures.

A service-oriented architecture is an IT infrastructure in which individual components are treated as services. Microsoft said its developer tools include a reference architecture for conceptualising a service-oriented architecture.

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