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Microsoft says SQL Server 2016 will be generally available on June 1

Microsoft has announced that SQL Server 2016, the latest version of its database management system, will become generally available on June 1.

The company says that its new database software "seamlessly manages both relational and beyond relational (JSON, XML, Hadoop) data, seamlessly integrates structured data with Hadoop data, and seamlessly integrates on-premises data with cloud data".

There will be four versions: Enterprise, Standard, Express and Developer. In March, Microsoft said that the Developer edition - which includes the full feature set of the Enterprise edition - will be available as a free download "for development and testing only, and not for production environments or for use with production data".

Here's an overview of the features available in each of the three main 'production' versions:

And here's what's new in each version:

Microsoft calls SQL Server 2016 "the first born-in-the-cloud database", and says that it is well-suited to a wide range of requirements:

Mission critical intelligent applications delivering real-time operational intelligence by combining built-in advanced analytics and in-memory technology without having to move the data or impact end user performance.

Enterprise scale data warehousing with enhanced in-memory columnstore that increases query performance by over 100x vs disk based solutions. With SQL Server 2016, you can also access optimized MPP scale out software that can be combined with scale out appliance architecture with our Analytics Platform System (APS).

Applications requiring the highest levels of security with new Always Encrypted technology that protects your data at rest and in motion without impacting database performance.

Comprehensive business intelligence solutions on mobile devices with an end-to-end mobile BI solution built-in that can deliver insights on any device. You can also manage all of your KPIs, mobile reports and traditional reports from a modern web portal.

New big data solutions that require combining relational data with non-relational data with PolyBase technology built-in that allows you to query structured and unstructured data with the simplicity of T-SQL.

Hybrid cloud solutions that can reduce storage costs, improve high availability and simplify IT operations with new Stretch Database technology. This keeps more of your historical data at your fingertips by transparently and securely stretching warm and cold OLTP data to Microsoft Azure on-demand without application changes. In addition, faster replicas can be placed in Azure to give you cost effective disaster recovery and backups.

In March, Microsoft announced an offer for its Software Assurance customers to move their Oracle databases to SQL Server, including free licenses, and training for administrators. That offer remains available, and will continue until June 30.

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