New analysis software set to be launched by Microsoft Corp. in the fall is aimed at nontechnical staff whose enterprises use Microsofts SQL Server but who dont need the advanced functions of third-party tools.
The Data Analyzer software, part of the Redmond, Wash., companys Office XP series, will be sold as an independent product, not included with any version of the Office suite and not offered as a hosted application "in the Office XP time frame," said Office XP Product Manager Lisa Gurry. However, "it will play a role in .Net," Gurry said, declining to give details.
Data Analyzer will help decision makers, not technical staff, see multiple data sets in one interface. The software includes templates for identifying and filtering data, as well as links to SQL Server 2000 Analysis Services and to Microsofts Excel 2002 and PowerPoint 2002. Users will be able to save analyzed data to Excel and Microsofts Access, from which it can be published into XML (Extensible Markup Language), but there are no direct links to XML or to Wireless Application Protocol, Gurry said.
Microsoft does not plan to integrate Data Analyzer with non-Microsoft databases. In addition, no specific links are planned between Data Analyzer and products from Great Plains Software Inc., the maker of customer relationship management software that was acquired by Microsoft earlier this year.
"I can actually see, even for people who are pretty skilled with OLAP [online analytical processing], some of these graphing functions might come in handy. This could definitely be useful," said Jason Lochhead, chief technology officer at hosting provider Data Return Corp., in Dallas.
But, Lochhead said, "for a product like this, they just need to make sure they stay focused on the intended audience. I would want to make sure they didnt get carried away."
For example, if the product reached for too many audiences, "you end up with something like [Crystal Decisions Inc.s] Crystal Reports," which Lochhead said tries to do too many things well rather than one thing exceptionally well.
He said hed be interested in testing the product and that hed expect its price to be "in line with Office pricing. Youve already spent a significant amount of money on SQL and OLAP."
Availability and pricing information will be announced later this year, Gurry said.