You may have heard rumblings at a conference or user group meeting about a new SKU of SQL Server that will be shipping soon: Web Edition. But what is it, exactly? Some information on this edition has recently been released by Ireland Licensing, and I will try to sum it up for you here. (There is also some brief information on the official SQL Server site.)
Basically, it has higher scalability than Express or Workgroup Editions : it supports up to 4 CPUs, no artificial limit on RAM, and unlimited database size. They also talk about a way to automate transaction log backups to a standby server, and better support for PHP (which seems to me at least to just be a driver that could be available through all SKUs or even completely separately? You can read more about the PHP driver for SQL Server 2005, which was just recently released, on their blog or at CodePlex). There is also a new database publishing wizard that is probably just an overhaul of the copy database wizard in SQL Server 2005 (which has its share of problems, as many of you are aware). This, too, I am sure will be available in most SKUs, as will policy-based management and data collection. Just to clarify that most of the additional features they are talking about are not exclusive to Web Edition (but some will not be available on Express).
The post seems to imply that Web Edition might only be supported on Windows Server 2008 and beyond, or at least that some of the scalability enhancements will only be realized on that platform. Maybe it's the enhanced PHP driver that is designed for Windows Server 2008? Not sure, they are a bit sketchy on the details.
Still waiting on pricing, which should be available soon for all SKUs. And while it makes sense, you may be sad to learn that this edition appears to only be available through service provider licensing (or volume licensing). And like a really aggressive and unhealthy diet, there will be no CALs here. There are also licensing restrictions against using this edition for business applications such as CRM. I wonder how they plan to enforce that one, and how explicit the wording will be in the actual EULA.