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Microsoft releases SQL Server 2008

The company announces that it has finished work on the latest version of its database software, which was due out sometime this quarter.

Microsoft said on Wednesday that it has finished work on SQL Server 2008, the latest version of its database software.

The software maker in a statement said it has reached the "release to manufacturing" stage, meaning that it has finalized the code for the software.

Although its release was delayed from its initial target, Microsoft said it was able to meet its goal of having a new version within 24 to 36 months from the release of SQL Server 2005.

SQL Server 2008 comes in a number of editions, ranging from the free SQL Server 2008 Express to SQL Server 2008 Enterprise. Other editions include standard, work group, developer, Web, and compact, which runs on both PCs and Windows Mobile devices.

Microsoft VP Ted Kummert, making good on a pledge to dye his hair orange if the engineering team got SQL Server 2008 out by the company's revised deadline. He's holding the team's mock-up of what his hair might look like. Microsoft

Pricing is comparable to what Microsoft charged for the prior version, SQL Server 2005. One edition, the Web version, is new. Microsoft Vice President Ted Kummert said in a conference call that hosting customers had complained of not having a version that met their needs, in terms of features and pricing, and that the Web edition was an attempt to meet those needs.

"We nailed it, and that just feels so good," said Dan Jones, a member of the product's engineering team. "This is such a great day. The sun is shining in Redmond."

The release is important for Microsoft, as the database product has been a standout in the company's financial results for many quarters, helping the company gain ground against rivals.

Kummert declined to give a specific target in either units or dollars of what it hopes the release will mean, but he said the company hopes to continue the growth it has seen with the prior version of the database software.

"We expect SQL Server 2008 to continue the growth trajectory," Kummert said. "We are focused on winning with customers of all sizes."

The downside of having the announcement via teleconference was, there was no way to see Kummert's hair, which was dyed bright orange. Kummert had promised the that if the engineering team met its deadlines, he would sport the new 'do.