In this article I will briefly describe the difference between different version of SQL Server that should help you decide which one you need.
Please note Edition is sometimes mixed up with Version and I will discuss editions in a separate article.
What is Version
Let's start with the basics. What is Version when we refer to SQL Server? When SQL Server was developed it was Version 1 so everyone could use that but than behind the scenes new features were added and to make it easier for people to understand the changes, new features were released part of SQL Server Version 2.
SQL Server was essentially re-written in many aspects and new version was released but instead calling it Version 9.0 it was called SQL Server 2005. New features were added to SQL Server 2008 (Version 10) and than Microsoft wanted to add a little bit more but it was too little to make out of it a new version so Version 10.5 was released under the name of SQL Server 2008 R2 (R2 = Release 2).
After that we had SQL Server 2012 and at this point in time we have SQL Server 2014.
Which one should I use?
Each new version of SQL Server is an improvement over the previous one so if you need new SQL Server than generally it is best to go for the latest version. Problem solved :)
Please note SSDT BI (formerly BIDS) is no longer part of SQL Server 2014 install and you need to download & install it separately.
There are however scenerios when you would not want to do that and some reasons might be:
- For Personal Use
- You want to learn SQL Server but company you work for uses older version which UI is different (e.g. SSRS 2005 and SSRS 2008/12/14). But remember if company uses for instance SSRS 2008 R2 than SSRS 2014 is almost exactly the same so you can go for latest version.
- Work (Production Server)
- Licensing of new version is less favourable (more expensive).
- It is not part of the agreement with Microsoft (Special agreements)
- The company prefers the new version to "settle down" and prefer to wait for Service Pack 1 (SP1 = bug fixes and performance improvements) so may decide to go with previous version instead.
- You may have to migrate or upgrade existing solutions which requires investment.
That is all about version.