The Denali discs will not contain any of the Books Online content; setup only installs the help viewer and a handful of utility .chm files. All of the BOL documentation will by default come from online (MSDN). With the Microsoft strategy moving to the cloud we want to use the internet as the centre of gravity for product documentation. This encourages customers to download the latest version when they install instead of installing stale content from disk that was locked down several months before general availability. We are one of the last few big Microsoft products shift to the online model for content delivery.

Here’s some more information:

Q: Does this mean no more local BOL?

A: You can access BOL locally. On first use of Help, the user is presented with a dialog asking them to choose either online or offline mode as the default setting for Help Viewer. By selecting “Yes,” the viewer will be configured to run in Online mode against the copy of BOL in the MSDN Library. If you select “No,” local mode is made the default setting and you will then need to download the Help packages containing Books Online by selecting “Install content from online” in Help Library Manager.

Q: How do I get BOL locally if I don’t have internet access (such as a data centre)?

A: A CAB of the BOL content is available on the Microsoft Download Centre that can be downloaded from a location that has internet access and can be burnt to disc, copied to a portable drive, or a network share.

Q: I have my Books Online on a network share, how do others access it now?

Users simply need to go to Start >> All Programs >> Microsoft SQL Server “Denali” >> Help and Community and click on the “Manage Help Settings” shortcut. This launches Help Library Manager and from there users click the “Install content from disc” link, browse to the network share with the BOL CABs, select the HelpContentSetup.msha file, select Books Online in the list of content available for install, then click update. This will install the BOL content locally on the user’s machine.

Q: Why are you doing this again?

A:  Switching to an online solution provides more flexibility in providing customers with the most up-to-date content as we are no longer tied to the SQL Server release schedule.

  • New customers typically first go through the BOL on the disc after installing SQL Server, so they keep referring to increasingly outdated content. We have to freeze Books Online 2-3 months before the dev team freezes the code in order to complete the final translation work, test all the localized Books Online versions, and have them ready to ship at RTM. We still get feedback from the on-disc copy of the SQL Server 2005 BOL about issues we fixed 5 years ago in the first update. With the new viewer and its ease in delivering updates, we feel that many customers will be using more current information than if we kept shipping the content on the disc.
  • While we immediately start working on the first BOL update and publish it at the time customers can order the product, the copy of BOL on the product discs is already somewhat obsolete at RTM.
  • The number of customers who prefer online help keeps growing; those customers can skip installing the Books Online content.