At the 2011 Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) summit on October 11, Microsoft announced that the next major version of SQL Server (codenamed "Denali"), would be SQL Server 2012. It was released to manufacturing on March 6, 2012. SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 1 was released to manufacturing on November 9, 2012.
It was announced to be the last version to natively support OLE DB and instead to prefer ODBC for native connectivity.
SQL Server 2012's new features and enhancements include AlwaysOn SQL Server Failover Cluster Instances and Availability Groups which provides a set of options to improve database availability, Contained Databases which simplify the moving of databases between instances, new and modified Dynamic Management Views and Functions, programmability enhancements including new spatial features, metadata discovery, sequence objects and the THROW statement, performance enhancements such as ColumnStore Indexes as well as improvements to OnLine and partition level operations and security enhancements including provisioning during setup, new permissions, improved role management, and default schema assignment for groups.