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Editorial - 01 Sep 1999

Jumping into Service Pack 1

Believe it or not, it's service pack time for SQL Server 7.0 (see "What's in Service Pack 1," August 1999). Announced in November 1998, but generally available in January 1999, SQL Server 7.0 had logged six months of production use by the time Microsoft announced Service Pack 1 (SP1). SP1 contains 46 bug fixes for SQL Server, including a few for Books Online (BOL) and two fixes for its new OLAP Services. That's surprisingly few fixes, especially when you consider that SQL Server 7.0 was a ground-up product refresh that contained significant new features such as Data Transformation Services (DTS) and OLAP Services. In addition to these fixes, SP1 contains a couple of notable enhancements. OLAP Services now supports cell-level locking, and Microsoft reverted the cursor rollback behavior to how it was in SQL Server 6.5. You can find a list of the specific problems that SP1 addresses on the Web at http://support. microsoft .com/support/ kb/articles/q225/0/ 19.asp.

Because I was an early SQL Server 7.0 user, I knew the product was stable. I used SQL Server 7.0 through three beta cycles. Although the beta code caused a few installation and client-access difficulties, and introduced some interface changes, I've had no real problems with the fundamental SQL Server engine since day one. But SQL Server 7.0 is a complex, feature-laden product, and I expected to see a lot more problems. Although no one can say the SQL Server 7.0 release was early, it was worth the wait. I'd much rather see a late product that's stable and reliable than an early product that's problematic. (I just hope that Windows 2000 fares half as well, but that's another issue.)

Despite the lack of problems in SQL Server 7.0 and the short list of fixes in SP1, I have to admit that from an administrative perspective, I'm not too eager to jump into SP1. I'm running three SQL Server 7.0 systems on my network, and I haven't had any real code problems. When something isn't broken, you just don't want to fix it. But from a marketing perspective, I can see two good reasons for Microsoft to release this service pack. As a technical editor, I'm an early adopter of technology, but many people make it a point never to install and run the first release of any product—ever. They wait for the first service pack, figuring that it will address the problems that often accompany new releases. By releasing SP1, although it is a light service pack, Microsoft will pick up these late adopters. In addition, Microsoft undoubtedly wants to stabilize SQL Server 7.0 and focus development resources on the next SQL Server release—Shiloh.

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