Free, Fast way to use SQL Server Virtual Machine

In one of my previous post, I mentioned the benefits of having a computer with SQL server installed in the cloud (a virtual machine). But, I stopped everyone by telling you how costly it is (about $150 per month). I promised to show you another way. Here it comes.

Microsoft has a series of virtual lab. That is a virtual machine installed with sql server, sample database, and some files to facilitate your learning process of some SQL server functions. The link of this page is:

(this page contains more than 400 labs. You can reduce the number by search field with SQL server, it reduce the number to about 64 and listed in 4 pages, as shown in the following picture. )


I browsed these labs, all of them are very good. I will definitely try most of them later. But today, I will show how to use one of them—Exploring What’s New in SQL Server 2016 Reporting Services for Paginated Reporting.

Click onĀ  “Get Started” button on this page.

Click “Launch Lab” on this page.

It will take several minutes for the virtual machine to start (I waited only about one minute). Now you see this on your web browser.


A computer display is on the left part. The operation system is Windows Server 2012 R2. On the right side, you see a 40-page manual about the lab.

I made a video about this lab and how to use this virtual machine beyond its lab manual.


Proudly, I announce: this is the fastest, easiest, and free way to learn and use SQL server. If I have to say some downsides of this method, there are two:

1 “Get Started” and “Launch Lab” buttons don’t always work. Don’t feel discouraged, try again, and try again. You will get it work for you.

2 The time slot is only 2 hours. After two hours, you will need to start a lab/virtual machine again.

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