Windows 2003 Server Web Edition doesn’t support SQL Server?!?

I am setting up a new computer running VMware GSX Server (because the new free VMware Server is still in beta) for which I plan to use one of the virtual machines to run a few websites including a DotNetNuke website that stores its content in SQL Server. So I decided to install Windows 2003 Server Web Edition and then ran into a problem when trying to install SQL Server 2000 (I’m using 2000 for compatibility with some older sites I am planning to move to this VM; I’ll installed SQL Server 2005 for new sites in a different VM.) 

When I ran the SQL2K install app (written in Demoshield) and I clicked on "Install Database", nothing happened.  Then when I tried to run the install app directly [setupsql.exe], I got the following error message:

Windows cannot open this program since it has been disabled.

Of course I immediately assumed it was a VMware problems (not unreasonable since I’ve had one problem after another trying to get VMware to work, mostly because of incompatible hardware, but still), but then their tech support provided me the answer on our forum.  Microsoft decided not to allow SQL Server 2000 to run on Windows 2003 Server Web Edition?!?!?!   Worse, their error message was so cryptic I spent hours trying to track down the problem!!!!!!! (Googling didn’t help.)

HELLO MICROSOFT, don’t you understand that most serious websites use a database?!?!?  I’d say this is especially true for smaller sites that can’t afford seperate servers.  And why must you persist in causing developers and IT people to have to track down the meaning of cryptic errors?!?!?!

I just love it when the marketing department of a company cripples a product for it’s intended use in order to ensure they "maximize profit," and when the implementation people don’t provide reasonable error messages for problem areas.  Sheesh!  The former makes me want to consider using LAMP.

10 Replies to “Windows 2003 Server Web Edition doesn’t support SQL Server?!?”

  1. I forked out the money for web edition too for my servers and ran into the same thing but never got the error message. I have to agree that this is terrible. I also could not even find an upgrade option and ended up having to buy the standard edition.

  2. Not advocating the price gouge, but that’s the whole point of having the Web edition: so that you get it cheaper because of the limitations. If you need SQL Server, then you run it on a dedicated db server.


  3. Ted:

    I appreciate the comment, but sorry, I don’t buy that argument. And BTW, II’m not a Microsoft basher. I’ve been a Microsoft supporter for years; less in the past six months, but definitely when I wrote that post I was a strong MS supporter.

    The reason I don’t buy it is I equate the lack of being able to run their flagship database on their Web Server Edition as being akin to Toyota selling it’s lowest end car and then saying "You got it cheaper because we didn’t include brakes. If you feel you need brakes, well then you need to buy one of our more expensive cars."

    Like brakes on a car, a database is an essential component for a serious web server. It is disingenuous for them to call it "Web Server Edition" yet not support a database.

    Certainly they could remove many services that are available in the other Windows 2003 Server Editions such as Clustering, Distributed File System, and Active Directory is realistic. It’s appropriate to disallow Application Center, Data Protection Manager, Exchange Server, Identity Integration Server, ISA Server, Live Communications Server, Project Server, Speech Server, Systems Management Server, Windows Small Business Server, and Windows Storage Server.

    But disallowing SQL Server on Windows 2003 Web Server Edition is JUST PLAIN WRONG!!! It’s not like someone wouldn’t also have to pay for a license to SQL Server! Jeesh!

    Well, it’s Microsoft that’s ultimately going to loose out on this one. Look at the marketshare of LAMP servers on the Internet vs. Windows/IIS server. This long term significance of that for Microsoft given the number of developers now developing for the LAMP/RoR platforms and not the .NET platform cannot be overstated.

    They reap what they sew!

    P.S. I am now working with LAMP now in addition to my Windows/SQL sites hosted at ServerIntellect.

  4. The worst thing about this is that otherwise 2003 Web edition would make a really good development platform. Especially since the SharePoint extensions for VS 2005 only run if you have VS 2005 installed on the server. I don’t want to run a full version of SQL on the box. I just need the tools, but no such luck.

  5. Microsoft are pushing for developers not to have web applications and database running on the same server. Since ADO.NET, web developers have been encouraged handle more complex CPU intentsive processes on their Web Server, and try to limit the stress on the database as much as possible.

    So for example, you’d call a method that brings up the top 50 employees from your database and store them in a DataSet, then cache that DataSet. Now the next time to a user comes along and wants to know which Employees from the top 50 are located in Florida, you can bring up that DataSet from the cache, and query that DataTable (rather than the Database) speeding up your web application.

    I’m not a network administrator or anything, from what I’m reading, it seems that it’s cheaper & easier for companines to integrate another Web Server into a Web Farm, then it is to integrate another database server and configure a database cluster, to handle increase network traffic and asp calls.

    Now remember, that doesn’t mean you store huge amount of data in your cache, and query that using ADO.NET disconnected data access. Instead, if you implemented very small caching of frequently redunant calls, you’d see the performance increase of your web application overall.

    But that’s just my understanding of it, i could be wrong.

  6. This is why you should run a dedicated server with a large hosting company. Let them eat the cost of Windows and SQL. I Know right now with Server Intellect you can get a Dedicated server with Windows Web Edition plus access to shared SQL server which includes support too. No need to install SQL on the server and run your own DB server.

  7. Tim & Devon: Thanks for the comments.

    My thoughts are that if Microsoft made that decision to push people away from hosting both SQL & IIS on the same box they are making an “idealist” vs. a “pragmatist” decision (see Yes, ideally maybe they are right but for most websites (which statistically speaking are not high traffic) it is just highly unnecessary and counterproductive to separate the two.

    However, since I wrote this post I have moved to the W/LAMP world for hosted websites and after a little culture shock while I (metaphorically) learned to walk and talk again I became amazed at just how much easier the pragmatists have made Apache, PHP, & MySQL vs. IIS, ASP(.NET), & SQL Server.

    Ironically I’m answering this right after Devon commented about ServerIntellect where I still happen to have a $129/month VPS and still have a few websites hosted on (I just this past weekend finally moved off dasBlog and IIS to WordPress and Apache, and I’m never looking back!) but am rushing to get everything moved over to my $20/month LAMP hosting because the next ServerIntellect invoice comes due.

    ServerIntellect hosts my SQL Server on a different server than my VPS and only lets me have 5 databases which means I can’t architect the software like I would like without paying more per month. Also, I recently tried backing up one of my SQL databases at ServerIntellect and their server stored the backup locally to the machine that hosts that SQL Server, which I don’t have access rights to! And when I connect to that SQL Server using a SQL Server Management Studio I have to scan thru literally hundreds of databases that are not mine nor to which I have rights to (but for which I *can* see their names, not so secure by design) because it is on a shared SQL Server and Microsoft didn’t really consider that in their architecture.

    OTOH, one my shared hosted LAMP server I can have as many databases as I want and it costs me nothing more, I can only see the databases that are mine, and if I Want to backup a database I can get the backup in text form as SQL code; why the hell can’t SQL Server do that?!? It makes this soooo much easier. (OTOH, maybe it can in the latest version, but I didn’t hang around to find out.)

    Anyway, I’m faaaaar from an anti-Microsoft zealot; hell I was labeled Microsoft kool-aid drinker and Microsoft apologist for years. And while I still see reasons to frequently defend Microsoft against the zealots regarding some issues, their lack of pragmatism in their product design is probably one of the main things that’s ultimate going kill them, or at least greatly diminish their stature in the market which to Balmer I’m sure will be worse than death.

    BTW, don’t get me wrong about ServerIntellect; I love their service, think they are an incredible ISP, and would highly recommend them to anyone who is still married to Windows web hosting platform.. But fortunately for me, I am not longer that.

  8. I just spoke to microsoft directly about this one – seems they’d either prefer to drop bucketloads of cash onto their more recent products (not to mention the hardware capable of running it) or pirate the hell out of their legacy products than actually try to help the end-user.

    Oh well, their loss…

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