The company made the second "community technology preview" of SQL Server 2005 available on Friday. A third test version, which will be made more widely available to customers, is expected early next year. A final version of the database is due by the summer.
SQL Server 2005, code-named Yukon, had been expected some time this year. In March, however, Microsoftto the second half of 2005.
The second "community technology preview" adds features--namely the SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services and Integration Services software--for running database programs on 64-bit processors.
Microsoft also made available a technical preview, or early version, SQL Server 2005 Express Manager, a new management tool. SQL Server 2005 Express is a free, low-end version of Microsoft's database designed for relatively simple applications.
The management tool, which is also free, is meant to simplify database administration tasks for SQL Server 2005 Express, as well as for SQL Server 2000 and SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine.
The final shipping date of SQL Server 2005 is still subject to the company's feedback process, Microsoft said in October. In a letter to customers that month, Senior Vice President Paul Flessner told beta testers that many factors, including customer and partner feedback and successful deployments of the database, will affect the timing.
Microsoft also said Friday that its partner ArtinSoft has released tools to automate the process of moving database applications from Oracle to Microsoft. Oracle, Microsoft and IBM are the top three database sellers.