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Microsoft to ship Office PerformancePoint server

The last of the Office 2007 servers to ship, Microsoft to release PerformancePoint Server 2007 next week.

Microsoft on Wednesday is scheduled to launch its PerformancePoint Server, the last server to ship as part of its Office 2007 product launch.

The application, which is expected to be available next week, is aimed at business users who model and run financial operations, such as budget planning. It also includes analytical tools built around Excel and other Office applications.

The suite combines three existing products, said Alex Payne, Director of Office Business applications at Microsoft. It will bundle the latest versions of Microsoft's existing Scorecard Manager application for financial monitoring, the analysis tools it gained through its acquisition of ProClarity, and its own planning application, formerly code-named Biz Sharp, he said.

The release of PerformancePoint Server 2007 marks a milestone in Microsoft's stepped-up attempt to derive revenue from business intelligence tools, an area dominated by companies Cognos, Business Objects, and Hyperion, which was bought by Oracle.

Payne said he expects that the application will take business from the established vendors and also be used by companies who simply use Excel for planning and analysis for planning and performance monitoring. Microsoft's goal is to make business intelligence tools accessible to far greater range of users, he added.

This initial release includes workflow and content geared specifically for financial processes such as budgeting and forecasting. It can also be used for different planning purposes, such as human resources and customer relationship management, Payne said.

Analysts use a program to model a specific business function, such as yearly budget. IT people need to be involved typically need to be involved for accessing corporate data sources, Payne said.

Microsoft has priced the product to undercut rivals, Payne said. It will cost $20,000 per server and $195 per user. Connectors to different data sources cost $30,000.