I posed a question to one of our new starters the other day: Would you rather have 6 months experience in SQL Server 2012 or 8 years experience in SQL Server 2005? I asked him this in response to his surprise that we seem to use the latest versions of all the Microsoft products: Windows 8, TFS 2012, Visual Studio 2012 (including the new BIDS version), SQL Server, Windows Server 2012… the list goes on. Certainly it benefits us employees as we get exposure to the latest software. But the policy to upgrade to the latest SKU's of Microsoft products isn't for the benefit of the employees,it's just a bonus. And, though it may look like the company is on the bleeding edge of IT, that ‘s also not really the case either. It may be up to date, but certainly not bleeding edge. Other than access to the latest features, there are two main reasons why it makes sense to upgrade the latest version:
[caption id="attachment_670” align="alignnone” width="463”] Copyright Microsoft[/caption]
So if you're running VS 2010 or SQL Server 2008 R2, other than security patches, from August next year you'll no longer receive the hotfixes that pertain to improvements and stability of your software. And there will be no changes to the design or features provided. You'll still get support in the form of phone and online, but I can imagine that a lot of those conversations will steer towards upgrading.
You'll also notice that there is a reference to the Support Lifecycle Product Database. This is a very handy page for each product that shows you the exact date that it will stop receiving certain levels of support. It also shows that Service Packs are supported for 12 months after the release. I've included the links at the end of the article.
This excerpt from an article by Jeremiah Peschka also sets out reason why it is important to upgrade:
In SQL, there are list of deprecated features for every new version and beyond. If you're going to upgrade and miss a few versions, can you be sure that you will be relying on a feature that was deprecated already? Microsoft keep a list of features that are to be deprecated in the next release. It's far more likely that you'll be able to keep up to date on these deprecated features if you are going to update your version regularly.
Here's the lifecycle page for SQL Server 2008R2. http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle/?p1=14917
The other versions of SQL can be accessed here (click on Support Lifecycle on the left to see the list):
And here is the index for all products: