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So, I manage to bump into an article by Sam Gentile who is complaining about SQL Express.

He complains there's no manual, docs, sample database or user interface.

I do believe there's a lack of documentation - it could do with coverage of the new features, however MSDE had no user interface, sample database or documentation.  It's a royalty free, application deployable database - not SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition.

The product is a good year away at least!  And given what has already been written in various weblog entries and comments you can get the key parts to work fine.  Creating/importing a sample database is also simple enough as to be a good entry level test of the user to see if they actually should be playing with the product.

Beta means Beta, not "finished product to try out" - if will always take some effort to get the most out of a beta.