Here are the givens:

  • you are going to want to scream about this question
  • this is an Oracle shop and will continue to be
  • all current environments are MSSQL 2000 Standard Edition
  • the answer(s) will help make a business case for upgrading
  • choice will be 64-bit and Enterprise Edition (leave that to me!)
  • end-of-life means nothing -- they have me (scary, isn't it?)
  • there is no development against SQL Server
  • there is (extensive) development with MS Access (recently 2007) that is only under duress moved to SQL Server
  • Windows Server 2003 operating system with no ounce of consideration of 2008
  • no data warehousing
  • no business intelligence
  • overwhelming percentage of accessing/supported applications are third party commercial off-the-shelf
  • scale of database size and usage negates the fact that you can 16-node cluster MSSQL 2008 instead of 8-node with MSSQL 2005

Here is the question, disregarding new features in MSSQL 2008 (which I believe to have a handle on), what significant improvements have been made in MSSQL 2008 to features that exist in MSSQL 2005 and not in MSSQL 2000?

  • What are you trying to achieve by asking this question? is this an effort to get the business to upgrade to 2005/2008 & you've been asked to pick one? or is this curiosity? Sep 16, 2009 at 0:51
  • First of all, sorry if this goes to the wrong place -- I am a newbie to serverfault.com. I have been asked to "give direction." I reiterate, this is an Oracle shop. The new geometry and geography data types provide the biggest leverage for 2008. I trying to flesh out, or better, strengthen the recommendation with improvements to 2005 features that can be had with 2008. Right now I am researching any "improvement" to the SNAPSHOT_ISOLATION level in 2008. Bottom line -- government entity, glacial change, political sensitivity in regard to justifying change in this economy.
    – gpzucker
    Sep 16, 2009 at 19:02

5 Answers 5


Page Compression. OK, so is a new feature, not an improvement of a SQL 2005 feature. You can spin it as is an improvement over row compression which exists in SQL 2005 SP2. Besides, it affects, transparently, almost every feature in SQL 2005, no changes required. Its such a benefic feature that it justifies SQL 2008 over 2005 from every possible angle.

  • Agreed. That an application is ignorant of back-end data compression and/or encryption in MSSQL 2008 Enterprise is already a talking point -- lots of static data/data objects involved.
    – gpzucker
    Sep 17, 2009 at 15:00
  • Right, TDE falls into the same bucket. I did not mention it as it has a more narrow audience. Sep 17, 2009 at 22:23

The SQL Server Management Studio now has IntelliType when building queries! About freaking time!

(technically an improvement on the SSMS, not a new feature).


Significant is a highly subjective word, but off the top of my head, one of my favorite improvements is the separation of Date and Time into separate datatypes instead of one datetime datatype. Also, the range for dates now goes back to 1/1/0001 instead of 1/1/1753.

I'm sure there are performance improvements, etc, but from my experience, 2005 was so solid that upgrading to 2008 is more about the new features than the improvements. In our shop, we are upgrading only when we can take advantage of the new features (e.g. filestream).


I think the question that you're asking isn't really the question. I work for state government and have worked in the private sector. Government usually has longer cycles for projects, but the core problems are the same. If you work in an Oracle shop, pushing a Microsoft, IBM or MySQL solution isn't going to be productive or good for your career. Unless you have solid backing from reliable management types, you're going to be perceived as "one of them" and will have a hard time getting things done.

In your situation, I'd push to treat off the shelf apps with MS SQL requirements like appliances, with small-scale databases associated with the app. You may have more success getting what you need in that case, as the Oracle guys think that MS SQL is a toy anyway.

  • Much appreciated input! To fine-tune the situation a little, "push" is not really applicable to my position. I am not taking offense but rather trying to discuss your point further. The "push" is really coming from the Windows server people -- the MSSQL database hardware is reaching its end-of-life and easily 50% of the supporting back-end databases are for Windows server management apps, e.g., GFI Events Manager, Symantec Endpoint Manager, etc. Your point about government cycles is well taken and is the basis for what I consider a deal-breaker, i.e., 64-bit.
    – gpzucker
    Sep 17, 2009 at 14:54
  • You're in a tough position (duh)... it sucks when politics becomes more important than the engineering considerations. I think you need to find a way to get support at a high level in your org to either to do Microsoft SQL right in an "enterprise way", or treat it as a "non-enterprise" service and set it up guerilla-style. Sep 17, 2009 at 16:45
  • Another approach is to age out the Microsoft SQL stuff further and look for "appliance" versions of the apps that you use now. Sep 17, 2009 at 16:47

From experience, there are several improvements:

  1. Better use of multicore computers with less tweaking of configuration or files
  2. Better performace for databases > 100 GB

Where I work, we upgraded from SQL Server 2005 Std. 32-bit to SQL Server 2008 Enterprise 64-bit just to cope with the larger databases (above 3 TB)

  • 1
    Downvoted for having a signature on each of your answers...despite being told they were frowned upon.
    – GregD
    Dec 1, 2009 at 21:20

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