Exciting news! SQL Server 2012 has released to manufacturing. You can download an evaluation of the product today and can expect general availability to begin on April 1 (Note: This site is still getting updated, so try again tomorrow for the link to the Evaluation Edition) .

We also announced today an additional preview of an Apache Hadoop-based service on Windows Azure that will be available in the first half of 2012 to connect SQL Server and integrated business intelligence tools with unstructured data. For more information about today’s news, check out Microsoft corporate vice president Ted Kummert’s post on the Official Microsoft Blog, and for even more information, check out the STB News Bytes Blog.

New benchmarks published by hardware and software partners on the SQL Server 2012 release further help validate SQL Server as the data platform on which you can bet your business. To find out more about why SQL Server 2012 is the industry leader for performance refer to here.

SQL Server 2012 continues to be a value leading data platform. A new Forrester Consulting commissioned Total Economic Impact (TEI) study on the potential benefits of upgrading to SQL Server 2012. The study reports a potential Return on Investment (ROI) of up to 189 % with a 12-month payback period.

Tomorrow, don’t forget to attend the SQL Server 2012 Virtual Launch Event, featuring keynotes by Ted Kummert and Quentin Clark and a number of video presentations about SQL Server 2012 by other SQL Server experts.

Start evaluating SQL Server 2012 today.