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Trying to Learn SQL Server – Get the Developer Edition

I had a question from a member of our local user group about options to get a legal copy of SQL Server to try to learn more. Those of us in the business tend to have access to just about whatever we need in terms of software and forget what it’s like to be a beginner that doesn’t have an MSDN subscription, so I thought it would be worth a post to talk about it briefly.

Really there are two choices, the free time limited SQL Server Evaluation download (can’t beat free), or the $40 SQL Server Developer Edition. My preference for the price is the latter, it gives you the capabilities of the Enterprise Edition with only a few restrictions designed to keep you from using it as a production instance. I’m not a licensing expert, but for training – especially certification training – you could probably easily get by with just building a Virtual PC/Server image and using the Eval edition, then building a new one when it expires. When you’re learning you’re going to junk it up, so starting over isn’t a bad move. If you’re at budget zero, you can make that work. But for longer term learning – say you want to build a web site and you want to learn SQL as part of that, you don’t want to reload the OS every 120 days because the eval times out. Spend the $40, get the license, go forth and learn.

I haven’t looked in detail to see if there are any big differences between the Eval and the Developer edition, but either one will give you the ability to practice on a “real” SQL Server. Something to keep in mind when the newbie asks about booking and training, make sure they have the software to go with the effort.


I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.


Posted by jorge segarra on 16 December 2009

Andy,good call on dev edition but problem might be having place to install. For beginners I recommend going to http://sqlserverbeta.com They offer a free vm instance with SQL 2008 on Windows Server 2008 preinstalled with adventureworks databases so you can check out SQL server in a true server environment at no cost!

Posted by Andy Warren on 16 December 2009

Good call on that one, nice option to have.

Posted by blaydes on 16 December 2009


Thank you for this information. My eval is set to expire 12-31-09 and I was up in the air as how to move forward.

Thank you for considering those of us just learing SQL.

Very much apreciated.

Posted by Steve Jones on 16 December 2009

Virtual PC is free from MS if you are looking for a place to install and don't want to mess up your main machine. You can get that, create a VM, and install it there.

Posted by Alex Rosa on 16 December 2009

Does anybody know how can we buy a DEV Edition easily?

I’m making this question, because I tried some years ago, and the vendors in Brazil, only sell this kind of edition for companies.

I’m a MCDBA and MCITP, but I’m not allowed to download a DEV edition for free (I need to pay a MSDN subscription), but students partners are allowed. This is one of my MCP’s wishes, maybe one day Microsoft give us a really MCP benefit, so a really MCP Welcome Kit.

Alex Rosa


Posted by Stephen Horne on 16 December 2009


I found the dev edition on Amazon here for $40USD: www.amazon.com/.../ref=sr_1_1

Stephen Horne aka Bluedog67

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