Microsoft rolled out Microsoft ODBC Driver 13.1 for SQL Server in full release on Wednesday. The service has been running in preview for some time but is now coming to all end users. Included in the full release are a number of new features. The release followed the launch of version 13.0 on July 25.
The ODBC Driver 13.1 is compatible across a wide-range of Windows builds, including Windows 10, Windows 8.1, and Windows 7. Microsoft says users of the following builds can access the feature:
Windows 7 Service Pack 1, Windows 8, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, Windows Server 2012 R2.
Open Database Connectivity is an interface that gives applications access to data in database management systems. SQL Server is used as the standard for accessing this data.
The latest release comes with a number of new features. Among them is the ability to always encrypt with ODBC Driver for SQL Server. Microsoft has also added Azure Active Directory support and Internationalized Domain Names.
The full changelog
You can now use Always Encrypted with the Microsoft ODBC Driver 13.1 for SQL Server. Always Encrypted is a new SQL Server 2016 and Azure SQL Database security feature that prevents sensitive data from being seen in plaintext in a SQL instance.
Azure Active Directory (AAD)
Use AAD authentication to centrally manage identities of database users and as an alternative to SQL Server authentication. The ODBC Driver 13.1 allows you to specify your AAD credentials in the ODBC connection string to connect to Azure SQL DB.
Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs)
IDNs allow your web server to use Unicode characters for server name, enabling support for more languages. Using the new Microsoft ODBC Driver 13.1 for SQL Server, you can convert a Unicode serverName to ASCII compatible encoding (Punycode) when required during a connection.
AlwaysOn Availability Groups (AG)
The driver now supports transparent connections to AlwaysOn Availability Groups. The driver quickly discovers the current AlwaysOn topology of your server infrastructure and connects to the current active server transparently.