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The Evolution of SQL Server Versions and Editions


People like us who have been into the software development industry for quite some time are familiar with the SQL Server database. We have seen it grow and evolve. Each time a new SQL Server Version is released, which is very frequent, we have been surprised with new and more user-friendly features which have made our coding life easier. Over the last 13-14 years, SQL Server has released many SQL versions and features that you can be proud of as a developer. 

Read: SQL Server Reporting Service: All You Need to Know about Parameterized Reports

This blog is a simple effort to run through the evolution process of our favorite database management system. Here, we will discuss all SQL Server versions, SQL Server Editions, and SQL Server Version Comparison moving ahead through the blog.

what is sql server

What is SQL Server?

SQL Server is a relational database management system (RDBMS) developed by Microsoft. Let us see how it all started?

Read More - SQL Server Tutorial for Beginners 

  • Microsoft joined Ashton-Tate and Sybase on 12th Jun 1988.
  • They wanted to create a variant of Sybase SQL Server.
  • The first SQL Server version was released the following year.
  • This was the first SQL server version of Microsoft that was launched successfully.
  • This marked Microsoft’s entry to the enterprise-level database market.

Later, Microsoft SQL versions for Windows NT and other operating systems were also launched.

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SQL Server Editions

Multiple SQL server editions are available in the database market that you must know as a database developer.

SQL Server Editions

SQL Server Versions Released over the years

SQL Version Year Release Code name Internal database version
1.0 (OS/2) 1989 SQL Server 1.0 (16-bit) Filipi -
1.1 (OS/2) 1990 SQL Server 1.1 (16-bit) Pietro -
4.2A (OS/2) 1992 SQL Server 4.2A - -
4.2B (OS/2) 1993 SQL Server 4.2B (16-bit) - -
4.21a (WinNT) 1993 SQL Server 4.21a SQLNT -
6.0 1995 SQL Server 6.0 SQL95 406
6.5 1996 SQL Server 6.5 Hydra 408
7.0 1998 SQL Server 7.0 Sphinx 515
- 1999 SQL Server 7.0 OLAP Tools Plato -
8.0 2000 SQL Server 2000 Shiloh 539
8.0 2003 SQL Server 2000 64-bit Edition Liberty 539
9.0 2005 SQL Server 2005 Yukon 611/612
10.0 2008 SQL Server 2008 Katmai 655
10.25 2010 Azure SQL database (initial release) Cloud database or CloudDB  
10.50 2010 SQL Server 2008 R2 Kilimanjaro (aka KJ) 661
11.0 2012 SQL Server 2012 Denali 706
12.0 2014 Azure SQL database    
12.0 2014 SQL Server 2014 SQL14 782
13.0 2016 SQL Server 2016 SQL16 852
14.0 2017 SQL Server 2017 Helsinki 869
15.0 2019 SQL Server 2019 RC Seattle 895

SQL Server version comparison

Here is a quick SQL server version comparison that you must know before you enter the database industry.

Read: Top 50 Informatica interview questions you should prepare

Older SQL Server Version Older SQL Version still Supported Latest Version Latest Preview Version
1.0 (OS/2) 11.0 12.0 15.0
1.1 (OS/2) 12.0 14.0  
4.2A (OS/2) 13.0    
4.2A (OS/2)      
4.2B (OS/2)      
4.21a (WinNT)      

SQL Server Releases - Feature Comparison

Here is again the SQL server version comparison based on features.

SQL Server 1.0
  • Had networking support
  • Used SQL Server Administrator to create database,set parameters and run queries
  • No Documentation was available
SQL Server 1.1
  1. The version was available for Windows 3.0 and OS2
  No Version 2 or 3
SQL Server 4.2 a)Supported Windows NT
SQL Server 6.0
  1. Supported Windows 95
SQL Server 6.5
  1. ANSI Standard Complaint
  2. Based on Sybase Codebase
SQL Server 7.0
  1. Had tools like query analyzer.
  2. OLAP Service
  3. Wizard to create tables, Indexes ,Stored Procedure, etc.
SQL Server 2000
  1. Analysis Service
  2. Supported XML, User Defined Functions etc.
SQL Server 2005       a)Introduction of SSMS         b) Introduction to BIDS         c) Introduction to Installer         d) Adventureworks test database
SQL Server 2008
  1. Change data capture feature
SQL Server 2012
  1. SQL Server Data Tools
  2. Always on Failover Cluster Instance
SQL Server 2014
  1. Integration to Azure
  2. Memory Optimized Table
SQL Server 2016
  1. Introduction of Polybase support
  2. JSON Support
SQL Server 2017   a) Can be installed in Linux and Docker

   b) Includes python Support    c) Adaptive Query processing

SQL Server Editions Mainstream

There are five mainstream editions of SQL Server that are frequently used by industries worldwide.

SQL Server Versions and Editions 16


  • Basic of all SQL Server editions.
  • Free to use in production.


  • It is between the Standard and Express editions. 
  • Can be used for web development


  • Enables database management with minimal effort.


  • Unlimited virtualization and high service levels for the mission-critical workload.


  • Has all the features of the Enterprise edition, but cannot be used in production environments.

To learn all these popular SQL server editions, join our free demo online training classes now!

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How to check the SQL Server version for your system?

SQL Server Versions and Editions 20

There are three methods how we can check which version of SQL Server is running in the system.

Method 1

Using Command Prompt with T-SQL Query

  • Open a command prompt

Start>Run>Type CMD and hit Ok

SQL Server Versions and Editions1

  • Type SQLCMD -S server_name\instance_name and click enter

             SQL Server Versions and Editions 2

  • Type  

select @@version

and click enter

SQL Server Versions and Editions 3

Method 2

Generate Web report using SQL Server Installation Center

  • Open SQL Server Installation Center

SQL Server Versions and Editions 9

  • SQL Server Installation Center Opens

SQL Server Versions and Editions 5

  • Select Tools and select Installed SQL Server Features Discovery Report 

SQL Server Versions and Editions 6

  • It opens a report in the web browser like below giving full details of the SQL Server version running in the system.

SQL Server Versions and Editions 7

Method 3

Using SQL Server Management Studio to check version

  • Open SQL Server Management Studio   

SQL Server Versions and Editions 4

  • SQL Server management Studio opens

    SQL Server Versions and Editions 10

  • Select the server name and right click and select properties

       SQL Server Versions and Editions11

  • The current SQL Server Version running in the system is displayed.

SQL Server Versions and Editions 12

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This was all about how one of the most popular Relational database management systems evolved over time. We have tried to give a comparative analysis on SQL server version comparison, how the software matured, loaded itself with more and more features and became one of the most popular database applications in the world.

This is not an elaborate write-up on the different SQL Server versions and SQL Server editions but gives the readers enough material to explore the history of SQL Server evolution in more detail if they want to.

Read: A Comprehensive SQL Server Tutorial Guide for Beginners & Experienced

SQL Tutorial Overview

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