Michael J. Swart

April 1, 2016

Microsoft Dropped the Cover Charge on SQL Server

Filed under: SQLServerPedia Syndication — Michael J. Swart @ 8:00 am

Takeaway: SQL Server Developer Edition is now free. This makes it very easy for newcomers to learn about SQL Server.

Some Skills Are Hard to Teach

Working with SQL Server and teaching SQL Server are very, very different skills. I sometimes get asked to teach others about how to tackle SQL Server problems in a teach-someone-to-fish kind of way. But I find it very difficult and I often don’t know what to say. What works for me may not work for others. For example, none of these activities are easy:

  • Develop a strong curiosity about SQL Server
  • Practice
  • Read as much as you can about SQL Server
  • More Practice
  • Find yourself in high-pressure situations where you have to tackle a difficult technical problem. Then when you give up, find yourself still facing the problem which hasn’t gone away.

… and iterate.

It’s challenging to fit those lessons into a session.

But Everyone Loves Free SQL Server Resources

So I’ve discovered that what is helpful are all the free resources available to me. And giving people a list of free resources is always well-received. To stretch the metaphor, maybe I can’t teach someone to fish, but here’s a free fishing rod.

For example, This list is more constructive and helpful than the last list:

  • Free tools like sp_whoisactive and sql sentry plan explorer
  • Free events like SQL Saturdays or local user group meetings
  • Free forums like Stackoverflow and Twitter

With those resources, it’s pretty easy to get started with SQL Server. In other words, there’s a very small barrier to entry to the world of SQL Server.

One More Free Resource

Well yesterday, Microsoft just made it even easier. They just got rid of the cover charge for using SQL Server. SQL Server (Developer Edition) is now free.


Microsoft made the announcement on their blog.

All editions have had a free trial period which allowed people to evaluate SQL Server for a limited time. This announcement removes even that restriction. If you have a computer and an internet connection, you can get started today by joining Visual Studio Dev Essentials.


  1. Nearly every tool in my “DBA Toolbox” is free – the only two products I pay for are Spotlight for monitoring/alerting and SQL Prompt for formatting and snippets, etc. – although I could go the free route there too with APEX Refactor.


    Hope someone finds some of those tools handy!

    Comment by Allen M McGuire — April 4, 2016 @ 10:24 am

  2. That’s a really good list Allen.

    Some of those are essential. Some of them I’m surprised are still kicking around (Do ‘Internals Viewer’ or ‘ClearTrace’ really still work with the latest versions of SQL Server?).

    Comment by Michael J. Swart — April 4, 2016 @ 10:28 am

  3. I just ran a 2014 trace and no – you can’t import those it looks. But I used 2012 Profiler against a 2014 instance and that does work. I like the tool for aggregating traces, which can often be tens of thousands of rows.

    I used Internals Viewer about three years ago – most won’t find it useful probably but I just leave it in the toolbox 😉

    Comment by Allen M McGuire — April 4, 2016 @ 10:42 am

  4. I loved the internals viewer. It’s value is in providing a very quick internals lesson. A bit quicker than playing with DBCC PAGE, DBCC IND and sys.fn_PhysLocFormatter(%%physloc%%)

    Comment by Michael J. Swart — April 4, 2016 @ 10:48 am

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