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SQL Server 2016 Developer Edition is Free

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In conjunction with the release of SQL Server 2016, Microsoft has announced that the Developer Edition of SQL Server will be free. In order to take advantage of this offer, you will need to be a member of Microsoft’s Visual Studio Dev Essentials program.

The Visual Studio Dev Essentials program, which is also free, is the channel through which Visual Studio Community and Visual Studio Code are offered. Also included are various Azure products, Microsoft R Server, and free training from a variety of vendors.

SQL Server 2016 Developer edition differs from their other free offering, SQL Server Express, in two ways. Unlike SQL Server Express, it cannot be used in production environments. However, it does have the advantage of including all of the SQL Server Enterprise features. This allows developers to experiment with Clustered Columnstore, Memory Optimized Tables, and other advanced features.

There is a downside to this however- there is no developer equivalent to the less expensive SQL Server 2016 Standard edition. So developers planning on targeting that edition need to be extra careful that they don’t accidentally introduce an Enterprise-only feature into their codebase.

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Community comments

  • does it matter?

    by Beren Erchamion /

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    there are so many free choices, does this really matter?

  • Re: does it matter?

    by Jonathan Allen /

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    In theory, SQL Server offers much better performance on high-end hardware than any of the free relational databases. But without anyone offering solid benchmarks, we don't know if that's true or not.

    Heck, even with NoSQL databases we don't have solid benchmarks. People love to show off using commodity hardware, but I've never seen someone publically run a test using enterprise grade hardware.

  • Re: does it matter?

    by Omar Jaber /

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    It is also free on Azure. Get an Azure subscription free trial and use SQL Server 2016 Developer for free.

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