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Microsoft readies database add-on

The software titan begins testing a reporting tool for its SQL Server database that will be distributed to thousands of customers.

Microsoft on Friday announced that it will begin a broad testing program for its SQL Server 2000 database that will enable business reporting.

The Reporting Services feature is a key addition to SQL Server 2000 and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. With it, companies can program a database to generate formatted reports on a regular schedule, such as a daily update on regional sales. The reporting server software will also be part of the next major overhaul of SQL Server, code-named Yukon, which is due to be completed in the second half of next year.

The testing version of SQL Server 2000 Reporting will be distributed to tens of thousands of customers. "For all intents and purposes, it's production-quality," said Stan Sorensen, director of product management for SQL Server at Microsoft.

Microsoft has signed on software company partners that have adopted the reporting server within their own applications, including Panorama Software and OutlookSoft.


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With the latest edition of Reporting Services, Microsoft has added the ability to build charts from the data that is stored in the database. People can now create a graphical view of information, such as pie or bar charts, on their reports, Sorensen said.

In February of this year, Microsoft revealed that it planned to incorporate business reporting tools into its database. Although the move was expected, analysts said companies that specialize in reporting servers, such as Business Objects and Cognos, are at risk to lose business to Microsoft.

Microsoft's Sorensen acknowledged that the company will be competing with these specialist companies, which also partner with Microsoft. He said he expects customers to stick with third-party products for existing applications but will go with Microsoft's reporting server for new uses.

The market for reporting, or business intelligence, tools overall has gone through a degree of consolidation this year. In July, Business Objects purchased rival Crystal Decisions for $820 million, and Hyperion Solutions acquired smaller business intelligence firm Brio Software for $142 million.