You can download release candidate 0 (RC0) from MSDN or Microsoft. The download link is here.
There are many new features with SQL Server 2012 as we previously covered such as AlwaysOn, better performance management, more reporting and visualization tools, Columnstore index, and FileTables. The product will come in 3 main editions: Standard, Business Intelligence and Enterprise.
With this release, Microsoft considers it "production" ready and provides several migration tools: Upgrade Advisor, Distributed Replay and SQL Server Migration Assistant (SSMA). This release includes features and fixes requested by some of the many users who have tested previous builds.
Some of the major enhancements Microsoft is showcasing with SQL Server 2012 include these:
- Greater availability. Deliver the required 9s and data protection with AlwaysOn, delivering added functionality over CTP3 that allows customers to experience multiple, readable secondaries for distributed scale of reporting and backup workloads and support for FileTable and FILESTREAM which brings first-class HA to complex data types.
- Blazing-fast performance. More effectively govern performance in multitenancy environments like private cloud. Resource Governor enhancements include support for 64 resource pools, greater CPU usage control, and resource pool affinity for partitioning of physical resources and predictable resource allocation.
- Rapid data exploration. Empower end users with new insights through rapid data exploration and visualization. Discover new insights at the speed of thought with more feature/functionality in Power View, the highly interactive, familiar browser-based data exploration, visualization, and presentation experience for end users.
- Credible, consistent data. In addition to CTP3 functionality delivered for Data Quality Services and Master Data Services, customers can better support heterogeneous data within Data Warehouses through new Change Data Capture (CDC) support for Oracle.
- Optimized productivity. Optimize IT and developer productivity across server and cloud with the new SQL Server Data Tools, a unified development experience for database and business intelligence projects, and cloud-ready capabilities within SQL Server Management Studio for snapshot backups to the Windows Azure Platform. Additionally, SQL Server 2012 offers a new version of Express – LocalDB. SQL Express LocalDB is a lightweight version of Express with all its programmability features, yet runs in user mode with a fast, zero-configuration installation and short list of prerequisites.
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