Thanks, Ron and Dan. I happen to have th SQL Server Management Studio R2 2008 installed which I obtained via the MS Alliance with Universities, as I'm in school. I'm wondering how different 2008 is from 2012 and if it'll be adequate for practice/study purposes.
Also, what are your thoughts on obtaining certifications? I was looking at the MCSE line of certs, but am not sure if I should go the Data Platform or BI route. Do any of you have or plan on earning these?