Yes, the day has finally arrived, and a couple of weeks ahead of schedule. Typically when Microsoft promises a release in Qx or Hx, the software comes on the last or second last day of that quarter or half. This year, we get an early Christmas present: SQL Server 2005 SP4.
To download SP4, go to this link:
If you are looking for the Express versions of SP4, you can get Express, Express with Tools, and Express with Advanced Services at the following URL (though they don't really do a great job of describing which file(s) may be most appropriate for you):
If you want Express that can install on 32-bit or 64-bit systems, download SQLEXPR.EXE. If you know you will only install to 32-bit systems, download the smaller SQLEXPR32.EXE. (The only difference is the size of the package – I can hear the peanut gallery now. In all seriousness, there is no such thing as a 64-bit version of SQL Server Express for SQL Server 2005 – that option first arrived with SQL Server 2008.) If you want Express with Tools, use SQLEXPR_TOOLKIT.EXE, and if you want Express with Advanced Services, use SQLEXPR_ADV.EXE.
To review the fixes in SP4, see the following Knowledge Base article:
I am not sure why the list is so short – SP4 does contain all of the fixes in Cumulative Updates 1 through 11 for Service Pack 3, and there are definitely more than that handful. I think this makes the service pack look a lot less useful than it actually is, especially for people who are still on SP3 or its earlier cumulative updates. Here is the full list of 11 cumulative updates, to make it a little easier to generate the full list of fixes or to find a particular fix you want to make sure is included in the service pack (see below for information about fixes in CU #12):
CU #11 (9.00.4309 – 2010-08-16) : KB #2258854
CU #10 (9.00.4305 – 2010-06-21) : KB #983329
CU #9 (9.00.4294 – 2010-04-19) : KB #980176
CU #8 (9.00.4285 – 2010-02-15) : KB #978915
CU #7 (9.00.4273 – 2009-12-21) : KB #976951
CU #6 (9.00.4266 – 2009-10-19) : KB #974648
CU #5 (9.00.4230 – 2009-08-17) : KB #972511
CU #4 (9.00.4226 – 2009-06-15) : KB #970279
CU #3 (9.00.4220 – 2009-04-20) : KB #967909
CU #2 (9.00.4211 – 2009-02-16) : KB #961930
CU #1 (9.00.4207 – 2008-12-19) : KB #959195
Most importantly (at least IMHO), this service pack finally addresses the MSXML6 issues that have plagued Windows XP SP3 users since at least February of 2009. From the fix list:
When SQL Server 2005 SP3 is applied on a machine that has a later version of MSXML6 installed, the service pack setup fails. This issue occurs when you upgrade Windows XP SP2 to Windows XP SP3 and then apply SQL Server 2005 SP3. To fix this issue, apply SQL Server 2005 SP4.
The build number for SP4 is 9.00.5000. (This "round number" build is becoming a favorite practice not just within the SQL Server team but across a lot of other Microsoft divisions as well.) Here is the result of "SELECT @@VERSION;" on my local Express instances, just for fun (notice that even though I am running x64 there is nothing in there that tells you whether the operating system is 32-bit or 64-bit):
Microsoft SQL Server 2005 - 9.00.5000.00 (Intel X86) Dec 10 2010 10:56:29 Copyright (c) 1988-2005 Microsoft Corporation Express Edition on Windows NT 6.1 (Build 7600: ) Microsoft SQL Server 2005 - 9.00.5000.00 (Intel X86) Dec 10 2010 10:56:29 Copyright (c) 1988-2005 Microsoft Corporation Express Edition with Advanced Services on Windows NT 6.1 (Build 7600: )
Should you update?
You will still need to wait one Cumulative Update (CU) cycle to restore all of the fixes from SP3 CU #12. As with previous SP releases in the 2008 branches, if you've already applied CU #12 to your SQL Server 2005 SP3 instance (SELECT @@VERSION will show 9.00.4311 or greater, but less than 9.00.4912 – the build for the Service Pack 4 CTP), and you are relying on fixes in that build, you should hold off on SP4 until the first CU for SP4 is released. Usually this occurs within about a month of the service pack, but given the holidays, at this point I would expect it mid-February.
This will almost certainly be the last service pack for SQL Server 2005 – from this point forward all you're likely to see are cumulative updates to the SP3 and SP4 branches and, roughly a year from today, mainstream support will only need to maintain the SP4 branch. You can read more about this in the following blog post from the CSS blog: