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What Is Microsoft SQL Server?

What Is Microsoft SQL Server?

It’s the technology that powers myriad business applications, including Opera 3 SQL SE, but what is Microsoft SQL Server, when did it first appear, and what does it do? Find out in this potted guide.


The first version of Microsoft SQL Server was released 30 years ago, in 1989. Rather than Windows, though, it ran on the operating system OS/2, and it was developed in partnership with Sybase. It would go on to be released for Windows NT, with Microsoft later taking lead responsibility for the project. By 1994, Microsoft and Sybase had gone their separate ways, with the former creating SQL Server 6.0 by itself. From SQL Server 2016, only 64-bit processors have been supported, and the last version release was SQL Server 2019.

What Is SQL?

Structured Query Language was created in the 1970s, by IBM boffins Donald D Chamberlin and Raymond F Boyce. Sometimes pronounced ‘sequel’, it’s a form of computer code, used to interact with databases. SQL enables users to access data and to manipulate it, using a set of standardised commands.

As well as Microsoft SQL Server, there are tons of other SQL database platforms, including MySQL, SQLite and MariaDB. Many of these are open-source and are popular as the basis of websites. Unless it’s part of your job to dig into the back-end of your software or website, though, you may never actually directly interact with your database solution.

How Does SQL Work?

At its most basic level, SQL holds data in tables. These have rows and columns, just like a spreadsheet, with categories for different types of data. You might, for instance, have a table with list of people’s names in a series of rows. The columns could list data for various qualities, such as age, height, eye colour and so on, like so:

Person Age Height

Eye Colour

John Smith 38 170cm Brown
Lisa Jones 29 173cm Blue
Alex Mason 45 183cm Brown

What makes SQL databases powerful is that they’re relational. What this means, essentially, is that data from one table can be cross-referenced with data from any other table in the database. So you might have a table for each person, with a list of their physical attributes, but you might also have a table with a list of football teams, with information about those clubs:

Team Manager League Mascot
Soccer United Bobby Goalman Division 1 Ollie Owl
Kickball FC Finley Wingback Division 3 Dave the Doorman
Manewcastenal Alfred Freekick Division 2 Dogboy

Let's say you wanted to know who the manager of John Smith's favourite football team was. Rather than add all the data about each person’s favourite football team to People table, you could add a favourite football team column to your table of people, and then take the data you need from the football team table, saving you the effort of entering it more than once, and reducing the overall size of your database.

Person Age Height

Eye Colour

Favourite Football Team
John Smith 38 170cm Brown Kickball FC
Lisa Jones 29 173cm Blue Soccer United
Alex Mason 45 183cm Brown Manewcastenal

This cross-referencing is, of course, done by the software, so the user experience is seamless. 

Why Use SQL Server?

Microsoft SQL Server has a number of benefits, including:

  • Multi-platform support: SQL Server works on Linux servers, as well as Windows ones.
  • Performance: As a premium product, SQL Server offers excellent performance. It’s fast, stable and easily scalable.
  • Security: Microsoft takes security seriously, and that includes with its server software. With SQL Server, your precious data is in safe hands.
  • Decision Making: Integration with the business intelligence solution Power BI makes it easier than ever to make informed decisions.

Pegasus Opera 3 & SQL Server

Migrating to Opera 3 SQL SE benefits business in a number of different ways, such as:

  • Opera 3 SQL SE is built on the latest 64-bit Microsoft .Net framework, following Microsoft’s best practice guidelines for client-server applications.
  • Secure storage and retrieval of data.
  • Small-scale implementations can run on the free SQL Server Express.
  • Upgrades are faster, because SQL Server means the Updata Data Structure option in Opera 3 is no longer needed.
  • Running data-intensive processes on the server side frees up local resources. They can also be scheduled for the most convenient time.
  • Opera 3 SQL SE is designed to allow for customisation, aided by the new Developer Integration Kit.
  • Unlimited data size: With the FoxPro database used in older versions of Opera 3, there is a data size restriction of 2GB. There are no such limits in the standard edition of SQL Server.

Interested in Opera 3 SQL SE? Looking for management or business intelligence for your SQL database? Get in touch today!

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