Running SQL Server 2005 Express on Vista

Without a doubt, Microsoft's upcoming Windows Vista release will be the biggest bang in 2007. And regardless of whether you’re ready, Vista will begin making its way throughout businesses as early as this month. Microsoft plans to make Vista Enterprise available to volume-license customers this month, and Vista will probably be preinstalled on new PCs beginning in January 2007. Between now and then, Microsoft is also making an upgrade path for PCs purchased with the Windows XP Professional Edition, Windows XP, or Windows XP Tablet PC Edition between October 26, 2006, and March 15, 2007. These customers will be able to upgrade to Vista Business free of change. Customers who purchase PCs that have XP Home Edition preinstalled will receive a 50 percent discount when they purchase Vista Home Basic and Vista Home Premium. For Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine (MSDE) and SQL Server 2005 Express customers considering moving from XP to Vista, here are a few important things to know before you make the jump.

In "The Losers in the Race to Vista" (in the archive at ) I explain that Microsoft has made it clear that MSDE technology will not be supported on Vista. SQL Server Express is the recommended Vista upgrade path for existing MSDE installations. However, if you're contemplating the move from MSDE or if you're planning to upgrade your existing XP-based SQL Server Express installation to Vista, it's also important to understand that the SQL Server Express release to manufacturing (RTM) isn’t supported on Vista. You need SQL Server Express Service Pack 1 (SP1) installed for Vista compatibility.

Even with SQL Server Express SP1, Vista's changes in User Account Control (UAC) affect SQL Server Express. UAC changes the way that Vista treats administrative users. UAC makes administrative users run with normal user permissions, then optionally elevates those privileges when an administrator attempts to perform tasks requiring administrative authority. This lack of administrative privileges causes problems with SQL Server Express because it removes the permissions required to access SQL Server Express. For adequate rights to log on to SQL Sever Express, you need to create a login for your Windows user account. You can create a new login by launching SQL Server Management Studio Express (SSMSE). Use the "Run as administrator" option, then navigate to the Security folder and add a new login for your Windows account. Assign the "SysAdmin fixed server" role to that login. You don’t have to make any changes for user instances because they were designed to be run by nonadministrative users.

Full Vista compatibly will be part of the upcoming SQL Server Express SP1. You can download SQL Server Express SP1 from the Microsoft Web site at . Alternatively, if you turn on Microsoft's Automatic Updates feature you’ll receive this service pack.

For more information about running SQL Server Express on Vista, you can read the Microsoft article, "Microsoft SQL Server 2005 on 'Microsoft Windows Server Longhorn' or Microsoft Windows Vista" at

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