Microsoft has quietly kicked out the final version of SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 to MSDN subscribers ahead of the Launch Tour 2005. The .Net 2.0 Framework has also been released, which you will need to install/use either of these great things.

If you’ve been keeping track of SQL Server 2005’s development, you’d know that the last three years have seen a lot of new features added. Service Broker, XQuery, Partitioning, Mirroring, Snapshots, .Net Integration, and new Management tools. Even DTS got a make over so severe it also got a new name: SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS).

If you haven’t had the chance to cut your teeth on SQL Server 2005, I’d really recommend installing the RTM. Now that its stable you can install it side-by-side with your existing SQL Server 2000 instances (or by itself in a shiny new server). The new management interface (SQL Server Management Studio) might take a bit of getting used to but it can be used with 2005 or 2000 installations.