SQL Server Reporting Services 2019: what has changed compared to earlier versions?

When trying to do a standard install of SQL Server, you may have noticed that the 2017 or newer versions of SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) aren’t installed as well. That’s because SSRS now has its own separate installer. In this blog, we’ll show some of the changes compared to older versions of the software and detail how to install and update the 2019 version.

1. Installing SQL Server Reporting Services 2019

Let’s first take a look at how you can get SSRS 2019 on your device. In the past you could just install your version of SQL and get the tool with it in one go. However, when installing SQL2019 through the usual method, as you did with edition 2016 or older, you will notice that you can no longer select SQL Server Reporting Services as a feature during your setup.

At the top you see a hyperlink that directs you to the Microsoft download page for the SSRS installer which is now a separate executable. Beware, though, the link included in the 2019 ISO directs you to the 2017 version of Reporting Services. So it is not the correct version.

This is the correct version for 2019. If you’re using the other installer, you will not be able to use the product key you used for the SQL2019 version you installed.

Once you’ve downloaded the correct installer for Reporting Services, copy it to the local server on which you wish to install and double click to start the installation. You will be prompted with the following window:

Click ‘Install Reporting Services’. On the next page, you can choose between a free or a paid edition. The free edition is limited to 180 days, developer and express. For the paid edition, a product key needs to be provided.

This key can be found in the ISO from SQL2019. Run the setup and continue to the product key page.

Once you’ve copied the key, click next. Accept the License terms. Click next and define the install location. Finally, press ‘Install’.

1.1 Changing the name of your Reporting Service

Once the installation is finished, you can start configuring your new Reporting Services.  When you open it, you’ll see that it’s called SSRS. But wait… I always named my reporting service the same as the SQL instance on which it is configured. I also have several tenants with multiple SSRS instances on one host machine. Where is the option to name the service?

Sadly, since 2019 there is no longer an option included in the installation to name the service, and if we start a new installation using the downloaded .exe then we get this:

 

No option for a second installation or renaming can be found on this installer, unfortunaly.

2. Updating newer versions of SQL Server Reporting Services

Since SSRS is now a stand-alone service, it will not get updated with the patch you apply on your SQL Server, which was the case with version 2016 or older. You’ll find updates for SSRS in the download centre mentioned above. First, verify the version number of your current install by going to properties on the running service.

On the download page, you’ll find the version number of the available install files in details section.

Once downloaded and copied to the desired server, just run the file like you would when doing a new install as detailed above.

It’ll look like this:

Select “Upgrade Edition” and just follow the installer.

3. Other points of interest in Reporting Services 2019

As you may have noticed several things are different in the new version of Reporting Services. First, because of the stand-alone installation, the service is no longer visible in the SQL Server configuration manager.

Third, the 2016 version could also be installed using command prompt, but in the official documentation of later versions this is no longer mentioned.

Finally, adding the service account, which normally happens during the installation, now must be done during configuration.