There have been a few blog postings (most notably Eric Nelson's post on July 12) about the fact that MSDE 1.0 and 2000 will not be supported on Windows Vista and Longhorn. It's high time I made it official:

 

MSDE 1.0 and 2000 will not be supported on Windows Vista

 

If Windows Vista compatibility is important for your application, you will need to update them to use SQL Express rather than MSDE. To be exact, the version of SQL Express that will be fully supported on Windows Vista will be Service Pack 2. Before you even hit the comment button, I know that SP2 has not released yet. You can start your testing using SQL Express SP1 and move the SP2 when the CTP becomes available. SQL Express SP1 works pretty well on Vista, the major piece that is still coming is related to the User Access Control features of Vista. (Note: As you start testing SQL Express on Vista, you should file any issues you find in the SQL Server Feedback Center.) There are a number of resources to help you with the migration:

 

SQL Express Download (website)

Benefits of Upgrading MSDE to SQL Server 2005 Express Edition  (website)

SQL Server 2005 Express Customer Evidence (website)

SQL Server 2005 Express Datasheet (datasheet)

SQL Express Redistribution Rights Registration (website)

SQL Server Express Forum (website)

MSDE Mainstream and Extended Support Retirement Dates (website)

Upgrading from MSDE to SQL Server 2005 Express Edition (white paper)

Managing SQL Server Express with Management Studio Express (white paper)

Reporting Services in SQL Server 2005 Express (white paper)

 

Why isn't MSDE supported on Vista?

 

There were a number of reasons we made this decision, I'll hit the high points:

 

·         SQL Express can be serviced through Microsoft Update, MSDE can't - Check out my earlier post about keeping SQL Express up to date with Microsoft Update. We made a number of changes in SQL Express to improve our servicing story in order to reduce the risk of having SQL Express installed (read: Slammer). The update mechanisms for MSDE 2000 are simply not supported in Windows Vista and we can't support a product on Vista that can't be properly serviced.

·         MSDE 2000 s almost at the end of it's support life cycle - MSDE 2000 will exit mainstream support on 4/8/2008 and no new deployment agreements will be allowed after June 30, 2007.

 

There are also some major benefits to SQL Express over MSDE, consider: no workload governor, increased database size (4 GB), a GUI management tool (Management Studio Express) and new advanced functionality such as Full-text Search and Reporting Services.

 

Given these facts, we decided the best benefit to Microsoft customers was for use to focus our efforts on ensuring that SQL Express 2005 is a first class database on Windows Vista.

 

What does not supported mean?

 

Not supported means not supported on Vista. Microsoft will not release fixes related to problems on Vista. Our support organization will not provide support for running MSDE on Vista. We make no claims of any kind about MSDE functionality on Vista. I know what you're thinking, you want to ask if it will install…

 

Windows does not do anything to block MSDE from installing on Vista, but you will get a warning indicating that MSDE is not supported. I've heard some anecdotal reports that MSDE does not survive the upgrade from Windows XP to Vista. This is all really a moot point since Microsoft will not support MSDE on Vista. You will best server your own customers by migrating your applications to SQL Express rather than trying to run an unsupported configuration.

 

Will MSDE still be supported on existing operating systems?

 

Yes, MSDE will be supported through the end of it's life cycle on the operating systems it is currently designed to run on.

 

What about other Microsoft programs that use MSDE?

 

I don't have an exhaustive list of these programs, but all the applications I'm aware of that depend on MSDE will either be releasing patches or new versions that will support Vista by incorporating SQL Express. You should be able to find more information about specific applications by looking at their specific product sites on the Microsoft web site.

 

What about Access 2003?

 

Access 2003 already supports using SQL Express, no patching required. There are a couple known issues when paring these two products:

 

·         The SQL designers in Access 2003 do not work against SQL 2005. This is true for Access, Visual Studio 2003 and any other product that uses the VS designers from the 2003 product line. You can still use the text based designers in Access 2003 or you can use Management Studio Express, which can be downloaded free of charge from the download link above.

·         Access 2003 does not understand the new User-Schema separation implemented in SQL Server 2005. Databases migrated from SQL Server 2000 to SQL Server 2005 will still work as expected. You should have no problems working with new database in SQL Server 2005 as long as you don't use User-Schema separation.

·         Access 2003 doesn't know about the new SQL Server 2005 data types. In my experience, the new types are shown as Memo when part of a Linked Table

 

Access 2007 has been updated to address these issues. More information is available about Access 2007 on the Microsoft Office beta web site.

 

Mike Wachal