Announced on 3/31/2016 SQL Server Developer Edition is now free and available as a download to all who have signed up for Visual Studio Dev Essentials. Even if you just call yourself a database guy/gal I highly recommend signing up here. In the past the only way to get Developer Edition was to have a paid MSDN subscription and the licensing headache in a large development environment was a nightmare. I’ve personally taken over 20 hours of Microsoft licensing training and I still couldn’t fully explain it to you.
This announcement significantly clears up the licensing model for developers, remember you can’t use Developer edition for production environments or production data, but for all your development and test environments just sign up for the Visual Studio Dev Essentials and now you’re covered. Now licensing isn’t the only advantage here because Developer Edition has all the features of Enterprise Edition, so if there are features that you want to explore that aren’t currently in use you now have access to them. For myself I know I have been in the situation many times where someone was asking, “Why should we upgrade to Enterprise”, now you can build out a POC using those features in a dev environment and pitch the advantages to management.
With all these tools now being free and available it should also expand SQL Community, create more SQL professionals in the long run and lead to more qualified candidates for open positions. This is something that all existing SQL professionals should be championing and sharing however you can.