Microsoft Corporation this week announced that a beta version of its forthcoming SQL Server 2000, Windows CE Edition will be made available by the end of June; Microsoft expects to ship the software by the end of the year. SQL Server 2000, Windows CE Edition (SQLCE) is compatible with its desktop and server-based cousins, enabling a new generation of mobile data-backed applications. Microsoft expects SQLCE to be popular with retail, medicine, trucking, manufacturing, utilities, consumer electronics, and the military, where its wireless support, high levels of security, and portability will be much appreciated. SQLCE will run on the latest generation of Windows CE-based PocketPCs, as well as previous-generation Handheld PCs and embedded systems running Windows CE 2.11 or later.

"The new digital economy challenges companies to distribute information throughout an organization and with customers across the Web," says Marie Huwe, the SQL Server group product manager at Microsoft. "To succeed, enterprises must create new mobile applications that can be easily deployed in the hands of everyone from salespeople and shop-floor employees to customers. SQL Server 2000 Windows CE Edition helps businesses gain a competitive advantage by enabling them to easily use next-generation devices and the Web."

SQLCE supports a variety of programming environments, with support for technologies such as Visual C++, Visual Basic, ADO, and OLE DB. And though its footprint is less than 1MB, SQLCE offers a wide range of essential database technology that is compatible with SQL Server 2000, such as referential integrity, a SQL Server-compatible data engine (works with versions 6.5, 7.0, and 2000), support for those data types that make sense on UNICODE-based devices such as those used by Windows CE, bi-directional replication, Web-based data synchronization, and wireless communications with SSL support.

I hope to have a full report on SQL Server 2000, Windows CE Edition later this year, and I was provided with an early look at this product during a recent trip to Redmond. For the markets Microsoft is targeting with this release--UPS, for example, will soon be switching its drivers to wireless-based PocketPC devices--SQLCE makes a lot of sense