I managed to attend this seminar today - and wow! I was expecting it to be just very simple updates but there are some really good features!!!
The seminar was run by Andrew Fryer (you can catch his blog here: http://blogs.technet.com/andrew/)
Some of my favourite highlights:-
Geo-spatial Support: Basically it has added a geometry as a data type and its great! We (Waterstons) did a vehicle tracking system and I honestly think this would have saved us a week worth of work plus a performance benefit of 20%! This allows you to do things like intersection checks (is an object within a polygon). It also integrated very nicely with Virtual Earth.
T-Sql IntelliSense: This has been long awaited... but I think only offers minor benefit since you cant tell what you are selecting from until you write the from statement!
Resource Governor: This lets you write a function which basically says how much resource a user, table, database etc gets - very much like resource pools in VMWare you can set aside resources for production databases and test databases.
Transparent Data Encryption: This basically lets you encrypt a database transparently. The application using the database is not affected - the only issues is if you try and transfer the database to another instance/server. (you can see more about this on Andrews blog: http://blogs.technet.com/andrew/archive/2007/11/29/sql-server-2008-transparent-data-encryption.aspx)
Backup Compression: I love this - basically by adding the statement "with compression" you can now reduce backup sizes quite a bit - but it also makes the backup quicker!! (it took about 22 seconds for a 160mb backup and it took 8 (I think!) and it was compressed to 50mb!). Restores where also a bit quicker. Again you can see more on this at Andrews Blog (http://blogs.technet.com/andrew/archive/2007/11/30/sql-server-2008-backup-compression.aspx)
Policy's: This wasn't one of the 8 covered but I thought it was very cool - basically you can think of this as group policy but for databases - it covered lots including things like naming standards.
New reporting tool: This was an office like application which will hopefully lower the entry lever required for creating reports. This is a massive bonus and I can think of loads of clients who would benefit from this! However they still ha vent fixed the annoying not being able to put data in a header yet!!!! grr Crystal can do it!
Analysis Services MDX Query Optimizer - Block Computation and other improvements: Very cool stuff - should just transparently improve the performance of analysis services!
Multiple inserts: Andrews demo sql allowed the insert of multiple values like:-
insert into tblName
values ('Ross'), ('fred'), ('james')
This is really useful!
Change data capture: Basically archiving but at a low level so there will be some overhead (he estimated 20%) but loads less than using triggers etc!
Merge Statement: I have left my favorite until last! This would have saved me so much time - basically it lets you either insert/update/delete with one statement!!! you can see more about this here: http://richardsbraindump.blogspot.com/2007/07/what-new-in-sql-2008-katmai.html (point 3 - also note there is a Delete statement which does the delete part!)
Overall Im really impressed by the changes - I cant wait to get it installed. If you want to see more info about these then it may be worth looking here to: http://portal.sqltrainer.com/2007/11/sql-server-2008-ctp-5-new-features.html.