Thursday, 27 January 2011

Servicing SQL Server vs Visual Studio

It's interesting to consider the approach that the SQL Server team take to servicing their products and contrast that with the Visual Studio team.

There are currently 3 versions of SQL Server covered under mainstream support (4 if you count extended support for SQL Server 2000 SP4 until 9th April 2013):

  • SQL Server 2005
  • SQL Server 2008
  • SQL Server 2008R2

and we know that 'Denali' is in the works as the next version.

Current service packs include:

  • Service Pack 4 for 2005 (released in December 2010)
  • Service Pack 2 for 2008 (released in September 2010)

In addition, 'Cumulative Updates' are also released at regular intervals, and most impressively these also cover multiple service packs for the same RTM versions. As the name suggests, these updates contain all of the hotfixes released since the applicable release. For example the latest cumulative updates include:

  • Cumulative Update #2 for 2008 SP2
  • Cumulative Update #12 for 2008 SP1
  • Cumulative Update #1 for 2005 SP4
  • Cumulative Update #5 for 2008 R2 RTM
  • Cumulative Update #13 for 2005 SP3

You can go to http://blogs.msdn.com/b/sqlreleaseservices/ to see all the details.

Now contrast this with current mainstream supported versions of Visual Studio:

  • Visual Studio 2005
  • Visual Studio 2008
  • Visual Studio 2010

There's been single service packs for 2005 and 2008. There's also currently a beta for the 2010 service pack. To the best of my knowledge they've never released additional service packs for any of the '.NET era' VS versions.

Additional updates are released but in very much a piecemeal fashion. It's up to you to look trawl through the items posted to the Connect site or on MSDN and do your research by then trying to look up KB articles as the original descriptions aren't always that descriptive.

I guess what I'm saying is it wouldn't it be great for the VS team to take a leaf out of the SQL team's book and provide a greater commitment to servicing their existing products as well as innovating on the next release – provide proper cumulative updates for current VS releases.

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