With the release of RC0 Microsoft has signaled that the release of SQL Server 2012 is just around the corner. If you haven’t been experimenting with the CTP’s now is the time to get off your duff and start getting your hands dirty. Realize that there may still be some bugs, mostly in the GUI tools and setup, but the core engine stuff is considered production ready. I wouldn’t push RC0 into production unless you are part of the Microsoft TAP program, without the TAP program in place Microsoft doesn’t provide support for pre-release software in a production environment.
As of this writing, only the DVD image of RC0 is available. There will be other options for installation at a later date.
If you are running Visual Studio 2010 already you need to apply SP1 before doing anything else. If you don’t have an install of SQL Server 2005 through 2008 R2 that you don’t want to upgrade it is pretty much the same song and dance you are used to now. It does take a long time to do the install. It took almost two hours to get it completely setup on my laptop.
You have to have SP1 for SQL Server 2008 R2 installed before upgrading to 2012 RC0. Remember, there is no direct upgrade path for SQL Server 2000. You can take a backup and restore it to a clean install. SQL Server 2012 RC0 will only upgrade 2005 through 2008 R2.
If, like me, you plan on doing a complete uninstall of 2008 R2 be aware you need to have the 2008 R2 install bits handy. If you don’t the uninstall process will complain and leave some bits left over on your machine. I have a hard time accepting that you need the install media to remove everything. You are in for at least two reboots as well.
After everything is completely installed you can start browsing the new SQL Server Management Studio. It is based on Visual Studio 2010. They have made a real effort to bring SQL Server in line with the rest of Microsoft’s development platform. It still has plenty of restrictions and that is all part of the plan. Shipping with SQL Server 2012 is SQL Server Data Tools formerly known as Juno. I was pretty excited to play with the latest release. There is a menu entry that fires up Visual Studio 2010. When you browse the project list there is an entry for SQL Server Data Tools project, which actually prompts you for an additional download. To add to your frustration SSDT RC0 isn’t actually available yet. You get redirected to http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ssdt/archive/2011/11/18/sql-server-data-tools-ctp4-ssdt-for-sql-server-2012-rc0.aspx.
So, now that I have a working install of SQL Server 2012 RC0 I’ll be digging into the bits I find interesting. Off the cuff I like the new SSMS upgrade. XEvents is a first class citizen and it pretty easy to find. Utility Control Points show some promise as well, but we will see how they work at scale. So far it feels familiar yet fresh.