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Microsoft tests database upgrade

The company tomorrow will announce it is shipping a second test version of its SQL Server 7.0 database server and the first beta copy of a new OLAP server.

Microsoft (MSFT) tomorrow will announce that it is shipping a second test version of its SQL Server 7.0 database server along with the first beta copy of a new OLAP (online analytical processing) server.

SQL Server 7.0, developed under the code-name Sphinx, will improve SQL Server's scalability, manageability, clustering support, and replication abilities, according to Microsoft product managers.

The new version of the database server also will include an all-new desktop version of the database aimed at mobile and disconnected users. The small-footprint version of the database will be identical to the Windows NT-based SQL Server, allowing developers to write applications to one API (application programming interface) and run them on either platform.

Microsoft will revamp SQL Server's current replication tools to include support for multimaster replication, also known as symmetric replication, which allows two sites to maintain and update separate copies of the same database while the replication software keeps both copies in sync. Also new will be support for disconnected users, so mobile users on laptops can receive database updates on the road via a dial-up connection.

The new OLAP server, code-named Plato, is entering beta testing. Plato is based on multidimensional OLAP database technology acquired in October 1996 from Panorama Software of Tel Aviv, Israel.

Plato will connect to SQL Server and to other databases to perform complex data analysis.

Microsoft also will provide a data access API to access Plato from other Windows-based applications.

Pricing for Plato and SQL Server 7.0 has not been announced. SQL Server 7.0 also will be part of a new release of Microsoft's BackOffice server software bundle.

BackOffice 4.5, slated to ship in mid-1998, will include SQL Server 7.0 and a new version of Exchange, code-named Platinum. The updated bundle will streamline internal communications between applications and make management of applications more integrated, according to Microsoft.

The company also is readying a future release of BackOffice, labeled version 5.0, to coincide with the release of Windows NT 5.0, now due either late this year or in 1999, sources said.