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Jamie Thomson

This is the blog of Jamie Thomson, a data mangler in London working for Dunnhumby

Visual Studio is free for developers. How about SQL Server?

Big announcements for developers in the Microsoft ecosystem today, Visual Studio is now free to folks that like to write code outside of enterprises (i.e. students, open source devs, home tinkerers etc…)

Visual Studio Community 2013 is a new, free and fully featured edition of Visual Studio, available today, with access to the full Visual Studio extensibility ecosystem and support for targeting any platform, from devices and desktop to web and cloud services.

As usual though the the most maligned developers in the Microsoft ecosystem, SQL Server devs, have been forgotten. There’s no full-featured version of SQL Server available for them is there? Add this to the ever-growing list of evidence that Microsoft doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the SQL Server dev community any more:

  • T-SQL is a decrepit, sad, excuse for a development language with only two* significant changes (TRY…CATCH, Windowing functions) this century
  • At Microsoft’s *developer* conference earlier this year there were 185 sessions. How many of those were devoted to SQL Server? One! (OK, two).
  • Archaic, buggy, IDEs for SSIS & SSRS
  • Ubiquitous “Won’t fix” responses on Connect

Here’s a suggestion for you Microsoft. Throw us a bone and make SQL Server Developer Edition free too. Doing so isn’t going to save the community wads of cash (it can be bought today for only $59.95 on the Microsoft Store, I’m sure that doesn’t make up much of the double-digit annual growth that they’re currently enjoying) but that’s not the point, it would send out a message. It tells us in the SQL Server community that Microsoft still cares about us, that they still want us to use their stuff. That we’re not a forgotten breed. As a SQL Server developer I haven’t felt like that for quite some time.

A pipe dream? Let’s see.


*Just my opinion. Feel free to disagree in the comments below.

Published Wednesday, November 12, 2014 10:58 PM by jamiet
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Jason Kohlhoff said:

<Looks out from behind SQL Server Data Tools, which we got for free, and nods head>

Here, here, Jamie.  I totally agree about the items on Rat's Ass list though!

November 12, 2014 5:12 PM

The Bit Bucket (Greg Low): IDisposable said:

Lots of big changes for Visual Studio and .NET were announced today. The biggest items are: .NET becoming

November 12, 2014 6:43 PM

jamiet said:


Fair point about SSDT. I still think they need to throw us a bone with respect to a fully featured version of SQL Servre though.

November 13, 2014 3:35 AM

lolcat said:

That is why you have SQL Developer Edition.

November 13, 2014 5:19 AM

jamiet said:

"That is why you have SQL Developer Edition."

Not sure what you mean. The point of this blog post is to say that SQL Server Developer Edition should be free, which it is not currently.

November 13, 2014 5:32 AM

Tobiasz Koprowski said:

You know, even .NET developers have great tool for work, still SQL developers are important, because all data are stored under our control (even I'm not a developer). But world is changing and I'm sure that we will get something cool features in nearest future (ok, not sure, I hope...)

November 13, 2014 6:57 AM

Manish Sapkal said:

Hello Jamie.  I totally agree with you. microsoft should focus on sql server.

November 14, 2014 7:48 AM

Jim Moss said:

At one time, Microsoft gave away SQL Server Dev edition at product launches. At least twice, I ended up with dev edition in my goody bag.

November 19, 2014 8:59 AM

Ed Elliott said:

What I want to see is sql server open sourced like the clr!

Even if just the source code was released while still requiring licensing - they could still make the money they do but we can learn without having to wait for paul randall to blog or resorting to using ida!

November 20, 2014 5:18 AM

Kevin Dahl said:

I'd much rather they put some effort into improving the DEV tools for BI rather than making the DEV edition free. But we both know that neither of those things are going to happen. Closed - won't fix, sounds too much like work.

I completely agree with your sentiment towards how it feels to be an MS SQL Dev too. PostgreSQL and IPython are quickly becoming my new analysis tools of choice.

December 20, 2014 12:21 AM

Topher said:

Seriously? You can’t pay $59.99 for a full functioning SQL Server. That is a killer killer deal

March 17, 2015 3:58 PM

jamiet said:

Hi Topher,

Whether I can pay $59.99 or I cannot, that's not the point. As I said above, the point I'm making is it would send out a message saying "we still care about you SQL developers. We care about you just as much as we do .Net developers."


March 17, 2015 4:19 PM said:

the developers version of sql server should not cost money.  its not for production.  

March 29, 2015 4:54 AM

AA said:


April 28, 2015 6:01 AM

James said:

It looks like Satya was listening to you Jamie. The SQL 2016 announcement includes enhanced SSIS, integrated SSDT Visual Studio 2015 development tools supporting previous versions of SSIS (at last)!

May 6, 2015 12:14 PM

Usama said:

James - You got me really excited when you said "Satya was listening to you". It is still not free.

September 15, 2015 10:46 AM

Sam Hobbs said:

It would help me to knows what edition of SQL Server is provided with Visual Studio 2015 Community Edition. There appears to be something. Is it Microsoft SQL Server Local? Whatever it is, what are the limitations?

March 17, 2016 4:56 PM

jp said:

I heard that sql dev will be free in april 2016

March 22, 2016 3:40 AM

jamiet said:

Thanks jp, let's hope so.

March 22, 2016 3:48 AM

Scott R. said:

jp and jamiet,

Good news!  We just got our wish - as of 03/31/2016:

Microsoft SQL Server Developer Edition is now free (03/31/2016)

Comments?  Feedback?

Scott R.

April 13, 2016 3:51 PM

jamiet said:


Yep, great news. No comments really other than "about blummin' time!!"

April 13, 2016 6:37 PM

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