SQL Server is being entirely rewritten for 2010, with a current code name of "Kalamazoo". In keeping with the trend of substantial changes to the core functionality of the platform every other version, this next release will form the basis for future changes that might well extend beyond SQL Server 12.
Early rumors show the disatifaction that the marketing groups have with dependencies on Windows and other products at Microsoft as well as the three year time frame. The goal is to release an entirely new version of SQL Server on-demand, thereby doing away with the cumbersome problems and cost of Service Packs and other major patches. The development team is hard at work on a new way avoid this: The SQL OS.
An unnamed source has revealed that the SQL team has a project underway (code named "Wildstar"), which will meet these goals. An entire operator system layer, based on the new Windows 2008 Server Core, will integrate the base OS features into SQL Server and allow you to install a single large server instance without requiring Windows or any other software. You will still get an NTFS filesystem and can set mount points, but drive letters are gone as well as many of the default administrative holes that Windows creates. Copies of only those Windows services needed for SQL Server are installed and set to a new "SQL Instance Service" account that has limited rights.
"We are trying to create a very secure, minimal install for SQL Server and prevent many of the security and configuration issues that Windows allows DBAs to set up." quoted from an unnamed source.
This new approach will completely isolate SQL Server from any other software and allow you to create a true, SQL Server-only instance. And with some new memory management techniques being tested, including a data cache per database setting, , it is expected that multiple instances from traditional SQL Server installations can be easily consolidated onto this new platform. There is also work being done on multiple tempdb databases and configuration options to link them to particular databases as well as a built-in RAM drive for storing certain data sets that might benefit from improvements in this area.
This new platform is expected to be released in x64-bit versions only and if you are still reading this farce, Happy April Fool's day! None of this is true and noone at Microsoft has hinted of any such project in any way to the edtiors of this site.
It's an interesting idea and one that I think might solve some security issues, albeit with limitations in flexibility and what you can do with an instance. Maybe we'll actually be able to report on such a project at some point in the future.