Understanding SQL Server Version Meanings

As SQL Server users, many of us are familiar with the major version numbers used by SQL Server over the years.  For example, SQL Server versions 6.0, 6.5, and 7.0 all begin with their respective version numbers, while SQL Server 2000 starts with version number 8.00.xxx.  If you’re a veteran of SQL Server, as I am, you might even remember version numbers like 4.21 and 4.21a. 


If you were working with SQL Server at any point when a service pack was deployed, you probably also know that the last three digits of the version number tell exactly what service pack is running.  For example, SQL Server version 8.00.100 is the Gold release of SQL Server 2000, but SQL Server version 8.00.341 is SQL Server 2000 Service Pack 1.  What a lot of people don’t know is that those final three digits also tell whether an important hotfix has been applied to the SQL Server.  And since there are many hotfixes, there are lots of confusing possibilities.


At Quest Software, we support a large number of SQL Server tools and products.  From time to time, we’re faced with the need to reproduce an implementation of SQL Server that’s exactly identical to one of our clients'.  For example, we might need to build a proof-of-concept environment or reproduce an error on a version of SQL Server that’s hard to pin down. 


In a situation like that, how do you know which service packs and/or hotfixes you need?  Well, you could Google on the version number and hope to get lucky.  Fortunately, there are a couple very detailed version listings already on the web.  I recommend these two:


Each site provides detailed listings of all versions of SQL Server.  Many of the listings also provide a hyperlink directly to the Microsoft Knowledge Base article that describes the service pack or hotfix.  These links are especially useful since many hotfixes must be requested directly from Microsoft Premier Support.


If you find any other sites that offer more insight into understanding the version numbers for SQL Server, I’d love to hear from you!


-Posted by Kevin Kline

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