The next version of SQL Server, code-named "Sphinx," will include parallel processing features for better performance, new mobile computing features, and expanded data replication. The first beta is due in June.

Dan Basica, a SQL Server product manager at Microsoft, reports that SQL Server 7.0 will let users replicate data over the Internet for the first time. This new version of SQL Server will also be available on Windows 95, in addition to the usual NT release. Microsoft wants users with laptops to be able to log into a central database and get updated information over the Net.

The most important feature in SQL Server 7.0, according to Basica, is row-level locking. This lets the product better support business programs from SAP, Peoplesoft, and other market leaders and makes application development easier. "Microsoft is starting to catch up to other database makers with row-level locking support and the beginnings of parallel query processing," he said.

The final release of SQL Server 7.0 could be many months away. Basica said users "should not expect a short beta cycle. For the scope of work we are doing, we need a four- to six-month minimum beta cycle." The previous major release of SQL Server--6.0--had a seven month beta