I see a lot of tweets, and questions on forums about SQL Server Express from developers, particularly around installing it on client versions of windows, so I though I’ll give it a go and see if there is nay truth to the rumours.

Rather than try it on  my physical desktop I decided to use a clean copy of Windows 7 RC and to do that I created a virtual machine in Windows Virtual PC beta , the version that is a download option with Windows 7 (from here).

This look a bit like a folder when you open it but with an extra buttons to create virtual machine…

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..The controls keys and general behaviour betray its lineage essentially a cut down 32 bit only version of Hyper-V so CTRL-ALT-END is equivalent to CTRL-ALT-DEL and CTRL-ALT-LEFT ARROW will release the mouse if the integration components aren’t installed. BTW it still uses the ubiquitous VHD file for it’s hard disks so you can migrate an old virtual machine (or VPC as they’re sometime called) to this version.  For this post I simply created a new virtual machine and mounted the windows 7 RC .iso file and left it to install while I had a nice cuppa.  After that I installed the integration components just like in the old version of virtual PC to get some proper speed out of the virtual machine and to enable folder sharing and networking.  Having done that I am now all set with a machine to play with..

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and from settings in the top menu I can enable integration components and configure the Virtual Machine..

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With shared drives checked I can get back to my physical hard disk from explorer in the virtual machine and pick up the network which is why you can see my blog in the second screenshot.

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So it’s all pretty painless and is way way faster than Virtual PC  2007 as it makes much better use of the cpu virtualisation from AMD / Intel.

In my next post we’re going to fire up SQL Server Express with Advanced Services and Visual Studio Express.