New Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 CTP Ready

Microsoft made the latest community technology preview for SQL Server 2008 R2 available to the general public today.

Microsoft announced the availability of the November SQL Server 2008 R2 community technology preview today.

The CTP can be downloaded here. Microsoft officials said the CTP is feature-complete. The new capabilities in the latest CTP include support for Windows Server 2008 R2 - including Hyper-V with Live Migration - as well as enhanced data compression with support for Unicode UCS-2. The company also added new visualization features and a Report Part Gallery to Report Builder 3.0.

According to Microsoft, SQL Server 2008 R2 includes enhancements designed to help administrators centrally monitor and manage multiple database applications, instances or servers. In addition, Microsoft said it has enabled high-scale complex event-stream processing through SQL Server StreamInsight, and expanded business intelligence capabilities with SQL Server PowerPivot for Excel.

"The PowerPivot downloads for Excel and SharePoint will be available soon," according to a blog post by the SQL Server team. "Keep checking back here for an update."

At the PASS Summit last week in Seattle, the company announced two new premium editions - SQL Server 2008 R2 Datacenter and SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse - that will be available once the database hits the streets. According to the company, SQL Server 2008 R2 is on track for general availability in the first half of 2010.