Just after a new release of SQL Server, I often get e-mails and calls from folks with this question: “Can I upgrade from Customer Technical Preview (CTP) x or Beta #x or Release Candidate (RC) to the “Released to Manufacturing” (RTM) version?”
Unfortunately, no. Right up until the last minute, things are changing in the code – and you want that to happen. Our internal testing runs right up until the second we lock down for release, and we watch the CTP/RC/Beta reports to make sure there are no show-stoppers, and fix what we find. And it’s not just “big” changes you need to worry about – a simple change in one line of code can have a massive effect.
Even if you've done this before and things seemed to go well, you may be in a difficult situation because of it.I’ve dealt with someone who faced this exact situation in SQL Server 2008. They upgraded (which is clearly prohibited in the documentation) from a CTP to the RTM version over a year ago. Everything was working fine.
But then…one day they had an issue. Couldn’t fix it themselves, we took a look, days went by, and we finally had to call in the big guns for support. Turns out, the upgrade was the problem. So we had to come up with some elaborate schemes to get the system migrated over while they were in production. This was painful for everyone involved. So in general it's just a really not a good idea.
There is one caveat to this story – if you are a “TAP” customer (you’ll know if you are), we help you move from the CTP products to RTM, but that’s a special case that we track carefully and send along special instructions and tools to help you along. That level of effort isn’t possible on a large scale, so it’s not just a magic tool that we run to upgrade from CTP to RTM. So again, unless you’re a TAP customer, it’s a no-no.