Microsoft has said it plans to extend the mobile version of its SQL Server database to run on all versions of Windows.

The company will release a preview version this summer, with a final version by the end of the year.

SQL Server 2005 Mobile Edition, which now works on handheld devices that use Windows CE and Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, will eventually support Microsoft's full line of operating systems, including the upcoming Windows Vista client operating system. The mobile database will be renamed SQL Server Everywhere Edition.

A Community Technology Preview release of SQL Server Everywhere should be ready this summer as a 2MB download, with a commercial release due by year's end, said Paul Flessner, senior vice president of data and storage platforms at Microsoft, in a presentation to SQL Server users in San Francisco.

SQL Server Everywhere will be available to users under a free license. Flessner said the software should help CIOs get a better handle on what he called an "explosion" of data outside of corporate data centres, enabled by smarter hardware and less-expensive memory and storage.

"A lot of companies are consolidating more into their data centre, but it's very naive to think all data will live there, especially when handheld devices in five years will be as powerful as your PC," he said.

Russell Wong, senior director of IT services at Paradigm Management Services LLC, said Flessner's handheld vision jibes with his own.

Paradigm, a California-based medical care provider, employs nurses to check on patients in their homes. Currently, the nurses lack handheld devices and must return to the company's central office to enter patient information into its SQL Server 2000 database, Wong said.

But he added that mobile devices equipped with SQL Server Everywhere could help Paradigm to provide real-time data input and access capabilities to its nurses.