Microsoft has announced that SQL Server 2012 has been released.
Microsoft has made an official announcement that SQL Server 2012 is available for purchase.
The April 1 release date was announced April 2, perhaps to avoid the whole April Fools' Day confusion. Microsoft describes it as being at the "general availability" stage, which means it's a purchasable final product. Marketing festivities associated with its release were held earlier in a March 7 Microsoft "launch event."
Those wanting to get their hand on the bits can follow this link. However, it leads to an evaluation copy of SQL Server 2012, which is good for six months. It can be upgraded to the paid version. The release date for the evaluation copy is 3/6/12 (a Microsoft spokesperson explained that the bits haven't changed since that time; the difference now is that the product can be purchased).
Customers with Software Assurance or those wanting to purchase SQL Server 2012 outright need to reach their partner representative or Microsoft agent or get it through the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center. Microsoft TechNet and MSDN subscribers just have access to the Evaluation edition or they can purchase the product, according to the Microsoft spokesperson.
Microsoft notably switched to core-based licensing with the release of SQL Server 2012. For organizations with more than four cores per processor, this switch likely will mean higher prices, at least for those organizations wanting to run the new Enterprise edition.
Microsoft changed the product editions with this release. Enterprise edition is now the top-of-the-line product that comes with "unlimited" virtualization rights. The BI edition is a new product for organizations interested in using Microsoft's business intelligence improvements in SQL Server 2012. Finally, Microsoft offers a Standard edition.
A comparison of the features enabled by each product can be found at Microsoft's page here.
On top of the evaluation edition, Microsoft offers a free SQL Sever 2012 Express edition for lightweight use, which can be downloaded here.
There is a specific version of SQL Server 2012 that designed just for developers called LocalDB. This LocalDB developer version is based on SQL Server 2012 Express but it has a richer feature set and is designed so that developers won't have to maintain SQL Server 2012 Express, according to a Microsoft blog explanation. Microsoft also plans to offer a Compact edition of SQL Server 2012, which has greater limitations on binary file sizes compared with LocalDB, according to the blog. The Microsoft Download Center has lots of SQL Server 2012 components listed, but downloads for LocalDB and Compact editions could not be seen at press time.
Microsoft's newest relational database system can be installed on "Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2, [and] Windows Vista Service Pack 2," according to the requirements. However, some people have experimented with it on the Windows Server 8 beta.