I've spent over 30 years working with SQL Server. I saw a post recently from Bob Ward who is celebrating 30 years at Microsoft, noting this is also the 30th anniversary of SQL Server on Windows. It's been an honor for me to get to know Bob, learn from him, and spend time socially at various events around the world. He's truly been a force in improving the SQL Server platform through the years.
While SQL Server has been on Windows for 30 years, I've got a bit more than 30 years working with the platform as I actually started managing a SQL Server instance on OS/2. With the addition of Linux, I've now run SQL Server on three different server OS hosts: OS/2, Windows, and Linux. That's somewhat amazing to me, especially as one of my April Fools jokes came true. This was one of the most-read articles on SQL Server Central for a long time, and perhaps it influenced enough people at Microsoft to build and release a Linux version.
Over three decades, the growth of the platform has been amazing. We've had the core engine lose tables in memory and then get them back with In-Memory objects. We have seen the heavyweight trace evolve into Extended Events and SQL Audit. The language has grown with many new ANSI features that help us write better code. We've deprecated a number of objects and added the ability to create our own with the CLR. We've added new data types, not all of which are named well, but we still have the ability to process more types of data natively. We've even added new services, with SSIS, SSRS, and SSAS packaged into the platform.
Not a lot has been removed, but a few things are gone, like Notification Services. Replication doesn't seem to have changed a lot in 30 years, which is a bit disappointing to me, but there have been a lot of improvements in HADR capabilities. We even have other companies (Amazon and Google) selling their own version of SQL Server as a platform, where you don't have to manage the instance.
In many ways, I've found SQL Server to be easier to use, but also much harder to learn about because the breadth of what's in the product is so wide now. I can't imagine anyone actually knows the entire product at a very deep level. I've also found myself more disappointed with the experiments Microsoft makes when adding features and not continuing to invest and evolve them (or even fix all the bugs).
There certainly have been plenty of bugs, security issues, and maddening moments in working with SQL Server, but it's been a great 30 years of a career working on the Windows version. I likely won't do that for another 30 years, but I hope those of you making a living working with the platform enjoy it as much as I do.