SQL Server 2008 release candidate revealed

Microsoft has begun to distribute a fresh release candidate version of SQL Server 2008, its key database server and business intelligence platform.

The latest release candidate is now available for download to enable evaluation and application compatibility testing ahead of its full release. No specific release date has been announced, but the target was for Q3 of this year."We are just trying to get that last bit of feedback from customers before we get to release and manufacture," said David Hobbs-Mallyon, Microsoft SQL Server product manager, who said this was the definitely the last preview version.New features in the 2008 version include policy based management' to allow users to start standardising and managing all the SQL servers in an estate. Encryption has also been fully integrated, so users will be able to encrypt information in a database simpler than in previous versions.

Mallyon said: "We implemented some of that in SQL Server 2005 and have now completed the work [in SQL Server 2008]. If someone writing an application wanted to encrypt their database it is something they can very easily do."

Other new features of SQL Server 2008 will be the ability to use geospatial information. The University of Cambridge and Easyjet have already made use of this feature in the beta releases.