SQL Server 2005I'm hanging out at the Visual Studio booth in the Ask the Expert area at Tech Ed Europe: Developers.  I took a swing around the Ask the Experts area to see what's going on, and to meet some of the folks from the product teams. 

I met two guys from the SQL Server 2005 Compact Edition team, Manikandan Thangarathnam and Sitraram Raju, who informed me that SQL Server 2005 Compact Edition Release Candidate 1 was just released to the web. 

Wait a sec, says me... what's SQL Server 2005 Compact Edition? 

It's the Technology Formerly Known as SQL Server Everywhere.  I wrote about it previously and explained how it contributes to the big SQL picture a lightweight, free, flexible database for use in compact devices.  Here's now I explained it then:

SQL Server 2005's Express Edition is free, it supports database sizes up to 4GB, it allows seamless upgrades to other SQL Server editions, and it's deeply integrated into Visual Studio.  What more could you possibly ask for?

Well, sometimes SQL Express is a little heavyweight.  When you want to work with data in "sometimes connected" scenarios (such as field force automation), what you really want may be just a simple, reliable datastore for your application which you might merge with another datastore when online.  With a runtime that doesn't run as a service, and takes a little less memory.

As I mentioned, SQL Server 2005 Compact Edition is availble today as Release Candidate 1, and the final version will be released to the web before the end of the calendar year.

I grabbed a Resource Kit DVD from the SQL booth, but apparently most of the material is also available online. Start your investigation at the SQL Server Compact Edition blog.