SQL Server 2005 Express Edition is a freely available version of SQL Server that is included in several Microsoft products. However, the version bundled in offerings such as Visual Studio 2005 lacks a critical component: Management Studio (which is the equivalent of Enterprise Manager).
Microsoft offers a solution: It allows users to download the extended version of Express Edition. From this page, you can also download the 64-bit version. Both extended editions include the equivalent of Management Studio.
Since you probably don't need the Express Edition at work, you may be wondering why you might want it at all. I present you with three scenarios that demonstrate when it may come in handy.
Scenario #1: Your employer is selling a database application and wants to release a freely downloadable trial version. You can't expect the prospective client to already own SQL Server. This is the biggest single reason to have a copy of the Express Edition. You can burn a CD containing the trial application of the Express Edition and give it away freely.
Scenario #2: If your application has at most 12 users, then the full-blown version of SQL Server might price your application out of consideration. There are alternatives, including using an Access back-end or MySQL. Microsoft clearly does not want you to go there; thus the free version, limited by built-in governors, lest larger firms think they can obtain this functionality for free.
In both of these scenarios, the standard version lacks Management Studio. There are dozens of reasons why your client might need this tool, not to mention the obvious reasons why you might need it on the site.
Scenario #3: You are a student who is considering a career in databases. You have the free copy of the Express Edition but not the tools that can really leverage your ability to use and learn SQL Server 2005.
If you decide that it would be useful to have the Express Edition, be sure to download the extended editions to get the full benefit of this database.
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