Microsoft will officially launch SQL Server 2008 R2 in Europe at next month's PASS conference in Germany.

With actual availability in May, Microsoft and PASS, the Professional Association for SQL Server, have teamed up for an R2 community launch tour. The European kick-off is on April 21 with a pre-event day at the 2010 PASS European Conference at the Swissôtel in Neuss, near Düsseldorf .

Organiser André Kamman says: "Microsoft and PASS have been in discussion since late 2009 about tapping into the PASS community to help co-host and organise the SQL Server 2008 R2 launch tour. With the timing of the European Conference – and it’s growing reputation as a professional conference with top-notch execution –  in mid-Spring, it quickly became an obvious for Microsoft to organise the 'official' R2 launch day in conjunction with the PASS European Conference. Demand is significant. We currently have well over 100 registrants for the R2 launch alone."

Last year, this newsletter reported on the growing importance of SQL Server's inbuilt business intelligence functions to European PASS members. How much momentum is there behind native BI be this year?

"Well, we have an entire track dedicated to BI," says Kamman. "It’s definitely a key component to our content offering. We also have a specific R2 track and, of course, many of the new R2 features are BI-related. So it’s easy to say that BI is heavily influencing the programme agenda for the PASS European Conference. This conference is organised by SQL Server users for SQL Server users – we provide the content that the community is asking for."

For more info and registration details, see the PASS European Conference website.