SQL Server major version

When I automate installation or administration I often has to use the major version of the SQL Server database installation.
Unfortunately SERVERPROPERTY('ProductVersion') return a string with the complete versionnumber, and there is no other propertyname to get only the major version.
I would like something similar to the SMO Server.VersionMajor property.

Some cutting and casting does the trick to get the left part before the first dot:

This gives me a integer that can be compared or be part of a calculation like
... ( @version_major - 1 ) ...

Some security configuration statements are dependant on the major version, and can behandled like this
IF @version_major <= 8
  PRINT N'Not SQL Server 2005 or above.';
  PRINT N'SQL Server 2005 or above';

In my SQL Server repository I store the version information in the table [sqladmin].[version], where the version number is in the column [version].[version_number] as NVARCHAR(128).
The major version in a SELECT statement as integer can be done with something like this:
  N'ssdb_version_major' = CASE [version].[version_number]
    WHEN N'(unknown)' THEN 0
    ELSE CAST( LEFT([version].[version_number], ABS(CHARINDEX(N'.',[version].[version_number])-1)) AS INT)

Please notice the ABS() on the CHARINDEX() because of the subtraction (-1). It looks like the SQL Server optimizer looks at the subtraction before CHARINDEX(). Without the ABS() the statement failed with this error:
Msg 537, Level 16, State 3, Line 1
Invalid length parameter passed to the LEFT or SUBSTRING function.

The case on the string „(unknown)“ is because the column is defined NOT NULL, and a unknown version number - usually because there is no connection between the repository collector and the database instance - is given the default value „(unknown)“. Even when a subset is selected by a WHERE clause, all rows are evaluated for CAST(). Without the CASE the statement failed with this error:
Msg 245, Level 16, State 1, Line 1
Conversion failed when converting the nvarchar value '(' to data type int.

(This is a running update from 2011-12-21)

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