COMDEX: Microsoft releases SQL Server 7.0

Microsoft has announced the availability of SQL Server 7.0, the software giant's PC-based database, claiming significant improvements in performance over SQL Server 6.5. Microsoft president Steve Ballmer admitted that favorable comparisons were made easier by the abundant deficiencies of SQL Server 6.5. 'You must be asking, 'How bad were you?',' he said. 'The thing to focus on is how good are we today,' he quipped to laughter from the audience attending Comdex/Fall '98.

Microsoft has announced the availability of SQL Server 7.0, the software giant's PC-based database, claiming significant improvements in performance over SQL Server 6.5.

Microsoft president Steve Ballmer admitted that favorable comparisons were made easier by the abundant deficiencies of SQL Server 6.5. "You must be asking, 'How bad were you?'," he said. "The thing to focus on is how good are we today," he quipped to laughter from the audience attending Comdex/Fall '98.

The main improvements in SQL Server 7.0 over SQL Server 6.5 are in the areas of scalability, availability and applications, he said. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software companies such as Baan, PeopleSoft, and SAP AG will be able to use the database for all but the largest 5 percent of their projects, claimed Ballmer. Baan will use SQL Server in implementations that are 10 times larger than before, while PeopleSoft implementations can be four times larger than before, said Ballmer.

Microsoft claims that the new database will be available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. "You can perform online maintenance on the database while people use it," he said. Ballmer pointed to 3,000 applications being made for the database by independent software vendors during the next 18 months.

So far, 10 SQL Server 6.5 customers have moved to the new release, and 1,000 customers are committed to the new database, said Ballmer.

Microsoft brought out three customers who have switched to the new product, including Pennzoil Co., BarnesandNoble.com Inc. and HarperCollins Publishers Inc.

Britt Mayo, director of IT for Pennzoil, praised the ease with which his company was able to switch its SAP R/3 ERP package from SQL 6.5 to SQL 7.0. While the system did suffer sluggishness right after the change-over, Mayo said it was expected. By the end of that first day, however, the ERP system was running at improved speeds. "Our response time was cut in half," he said. "The system has been fully stable and robust for the last 2 to 3 months."

Similarly, Lyle Anderson, chief information officer of News America, a division of HarperCollins, reported significant improvements in speed and performance of the new SQL release. The publisher's database was being used mainly for data warehousing, and Anderson claimed that SQL 7.0 is 10 times faster than the previous version for queries and four times faster for batch performance.

Online bookseller BarnesandNoble.com switched to the new database for its Web commerce activities. The company saw a 100 percent performance increase, according to Alan Bourassa, director of strategic planning and design.

SQL Server 7.0 will be available worldwide in the reseller channel within the next 45 days. Initially being offered in English, it will be made available in French, German, Spanish and Japanese within 60 days, according to a press statement. It will be available in Chinese by the end of February, Ballmer said in a question-and-answer session for journalists.

The Standard Edition of SQL Server 7.0 will be available in three configurations, ranging from a five-user system for US$1,399 to a 25-user system priced at $3,999. SQL Server 7.0 Enterprise Edition also will be available in three iterations, starting at $7,999 for a 25-user system for $7,999 and ranging to $28,999 for a 250-user system.

In a special promotion to last 99 days, users upgrading or switching from competing databases can buy the database for $99.

Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at +1-425-882-8080, or on the World Wide Web at http://www.microsoft.com/.

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