SQL Server 7.0: “She sure was a good ship”….

In December of 1997, I was asked by my manager whether I would like to visit Seattle to spend time with the SQL Server Development team as they built our next generation of the database engine, SQL Server 7.0. I had been with Microsoft for about four years and at that time was already considered a veteran on our support staff. I had supported SQL 1.1 and 4.2 for OS/2 and SQL Server 4.20, 4.21, 6.0, and 6.5 for Windows NT. So I took up the opportunity and in January of 1998 visited our Microsoft campus in Redmond in hopes of learning more about what this new version would look like.

Back then the SQL team was in Building 1 and literally the entire team (including dev, test, etc) all fit on 2 floors in this building (The SQL team now takes up almost 2 buildings of much larger size now) . My six weeks spent there in Redmond was an experience I’ll never forget. Not only did I get to witness the birth of our new SQL 7.0 product with people like Paul Flessner, David Campbell, Sameet Agarwal, Mike Zwilling, Peter Byrne, Billie Jo Murray, and Steve Lindell. But I also was able to participate and help shape some of the new work. (such as feedback on DBCC commands and supportability features that are still in the product today .Steve if you are reading this no doubt you will not forget the fun of reviewing every DBCC CHECKDB message together).

SQL 7.0 represented such a major milestone for our product because it is still the foundation for many key concepts that still exist in the engine today. It was truly the first version where Microsoft finally veered away from all of the original SYBASE concepts and structure used in the first SQL4.2 version for Windows NT and built a new engine with new ideas, new algorithms, and new structures that you see today in SQL Server 2008 R2.

So it is with sadness that tomorrow marks the end of the product lifecycle for SQL Server 7.0. Official assisted support ends tomorrow January 11, 2011. You might be reading this and thinking that you didn’t know we still supported SQL 7.0 but until tomorrow we officially do. Customers who have purchased special custom support agreements can still get help from CSS, but other than that we won’t take phone calls or online cases for SQL 7.0 anymore. As I see the support of SQL 7.0 end, it reminds of the movie Apollo 13 where Bill Paxton (the character who plays Fred Haise) remarks “She sure was a good ship” as he watches the Aquarius Lunar Module drift away in space commenting on how that ship intended to land on the moon had saved all of their lives. SQL 7.0 was a great ship. One that changed the direction of Microsoft SQL Server from a small-time player in the RDBMS market to a major force.

In addition to the end of all assisted support or SQL 7.0, it is important for you also to not forget that mainstream support will be ending for SQL Server 2005 on April 11th of 2011. Before you panic, the end of “mainstream support” is not the complete end of support. But it does mean the end of cumulative updates for SQL Server 2005 and the end of hotfix support without a custom agreement. The SQL Release Services team is still working out the details of exactly when the last CU will be published for SQL Server 2005. (but it will be before the end of mainstream support date). For more information on what “mainstream support” means I recommend you read this previous blog post:


Bob Ward, Microsoft

Comments (3)

  1. Rudy Panigas says:

    Nicely said. I started as a Microsoft DBA with SQL 7.0 and really enjoyed working with the product. Do you remember this trick with SQL 7.0? You could send up SQL server so that you could email the SQL server with a t-sql command and it would email you back the results! Wow, that was so cool and helped me while on the road. Wish we could do that with SQL 2008R2.

    Thanks for the memories and all the great work done on SQL 7.0

    Rudy Panigas


  2. DG says:

    I finally understand something. When MS released SQL 7.0 it relied upon a finite, closely-knit crew to turn out a killer app. When they wrote 2008r2 et al, they relied upon competing business units acting like dogs marking trees. I confess I am old school. Give me small fast code that moves so quickly the user does not have time to get coffee while the query finishes. MS thought that way in creating SQL 7.0. It clearly doesn't think that way anymore and it is a crying shame.

  3. Bob Ward says:


    The intention of this post was not to point out that we produced better products back in 7.0 but just to give the community an inside historical perspective of our product and the founcdation 7.0 created. If you ask anyone I work with they probably called me "old school" as well but not sure I understand your comments about SQL 2008 R2. I definitely want to hear the feedback about your concrns because perhaps I can do something about them. Please contact me directly at bobward@microsoft.com if you have specifical examples about your frustrations with SQL 2008 R2

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