At the recent [Microsoft Connect event](https://connectevent.microsoft.com/ " target="_blank) (Nov 16-19th) there were a slew of awesome announcements, plenty of love for cross plat development (e.g. [Visual Studio on Mac](https://www.visualstudio.com/vs/visual-studio-mac/ " target="_blank)), even more Docker, .NET Core 1.1 and the [public preview of SQL server on Linux](https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/dataplatforminsider/2016/11/16/announcing-sql-server-on-linux-public-preview-first-preview-of-next-release-of-sql-server/ " target="_blank).
In the torrent of the announcements I blinked and caught the end of a slide covering the release of [SQL Server 2016 SP1](https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/dataplatforminsider/2016/11/16/sql-server-2016-service-pack-1-generally-available/ " target="_blank). I could have sworn they mentioned a number of the high end previously enterprise edition only features are now available in the lower editions, I went and checked and its true! holy shit that is awesome.
This is a big deal if you're used to working with smaller organisations where the SQL Server budget rarely extends to the Enterprise edition of SQL Server, not only in the standard edition, these features are included in the express edition (yes the free version!).
Enterprise only features are now included in the standard and (free) express editions!
Here is a snippet of the [SQL Server 2016 editions page](https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/sql-server/sql-server-editions " target="_blank), wow look at those glorious blue dots under the Standard and Express edition SKUs
If you use SQL Server in your organisation and have been following the recent major releases you'll know there have been some impressive innovations including (but not limited to):
- [columnstore indices](https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg492088(v=sql.120).aspx " target="_blank)
- [in memory OLTP](https://msdn.com/en-us/library/dn133186.aspx " target="_blank) aka Hekaton
- [always encrypted](https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-GB/library/mt163865.aspx " target="_blank)
Those of us limited to the lower SKUs could only look over to the Enterprise Edition with envy, that was until SQL Server 2016 SP1.
As you'd expect there are still some limitations in the nitty gritty detail but its a massive step forward and will allow smaller organisations to take advantage of the enterprise features (namely increased performance and security) without the associated cost.
Its a smart move by Microsoft to address the feature gap between editions that was in danger of driving customers to consider alternative (cheaper) database platforms.