This second preview edition, which is an interim release wedged between major beta builds of the upcoming SQL Server upgrade, introduces 64-bit support for SQl Server 2005 Analysis Services and Integration Services. The SQL Server 2005 database engine already includes 64-bit support.
Kirsten Ward, lead product manager for SQL Server, said that the release is in answer to customers growing use of Microsofts business intelligence tools, not only in 32-bit environments but in 64-bit environments. The CTP is available to all MSDN and Betaplace subscribers.
A Microsoft spokeswoman said that a Community Technology Preview of code-name Whidbey is not available today, but the company plans to release a CTP of the Standard Edition soon, as well as another CTP of Team Systems soon after that.
In addition, the company rolled out a technical preview of SQL Server 2005 Express Manager, a free database management tool built on top of Windows .Net Framework 2.0.
Express Manager can manage SQL Server 2000, SQL Server 2000 MSDE, and SQL Server 2005 Developer and Express Edition databases, whether theyre remote or local.
The tool is downloadable from the companys Download Center.
Ward said that historically, management options for the free MSDE have included either command line or community-developed tools, but customers have been looking for an easy-to-use tool.
"This is the first time weve released dedicated management tools for our free database," said Ward, in Redmond, Wash. "It takes all the SQL Server benefits of making management easier to use and reducing complexity and offers it in a free tool."
Microsoft is currently seeing some 100,000 downloads of MSDE monthly, she said, making for a significant amount of demand for an easy-to-use management tool.
Editors Note: Microsoft Watch Editor Mary Jo Foley contributed to this story.