This editorial was originally published on Sept 7, 2012. It is being re-published as Steve is at DevConnections.
Why don't developers like SQL Server? Probably a few reasons, but I'm sure this is one that really frustrates them. I found a Connect Item that was titled: Why is Deploying SQL Server 2008 R2 sooooo FRUSTRATING?!! There really is a question there, asking for guidance on which versions of SQL Server are available and recommended for developers to include in their applications.
When SQL Server MSDE was released, it seemed that Microsoft was looking for it to be included in small applications that might then be upsized to a Standard or Enterprise edition of SQL Server. It seems to me that this is really the market for Express (the evolution of MSDE) and that it ought to be simple for a developer to not only deploy this with their application, but also setup basic maintenance easily.
I sometimes think that the software developers at Microsoft get lost in their own specialty and forget just how frustrating it can be for the rest of us trying to use their product in new ways. They forget that many of us want to deploy simple solutions easily, and not spend a lot of time working out the nuances of software setup.
I'd like to see Express not only have a very simple setup that works across multiple versions of Visual Studio, but also baic maintenance plans built in that allow full and log backups (if needed), along with index rebuilds with a simple switch set as a part of setup. A few registry keys or XML config changes could set paths or frequencies.
Making life simpler for developers is a worthwhile investment for the SQL Server team. It makes them more likely to include it in their applications. If you can add a one-switch replication to sync to a Standard or Enterprise SQL Server, they might think Express is required in every application.