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Microsoft Touts Smarter, Thinner Office

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Microsoft believes business intelligence should be added to a suite that employees use to collaborate and manage their workflow — Office.

The Redmond, Wash., company today unveiled Microsoft Office Business Scorecard Manager 2005, a business performance management server application to improve the user experience of corporate workers.

The software, available November 1, injects the BI technology that would normally be found in the SQL Server database platform into Office, helping employees pump out personalized scorecards to track key performance indicators (KPIs) against goals.

Microsoft said it will sell the scorecard application for $5,000 per server, and a client access license of $175 per seat. This is generally thousands less than software products from leading BI vendors such as Business Objects and Cognos.

Office 12 Excel will help workers maintain a persistent connection between their Excel spreadsheet and the data source so that spreadsheets created with Excel can be updated with ease. New features include support for SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services, expanded spreadsheet capacity and better sorting and filtering tools.

Office 12 SharePoint will leverage new Excel Services to allow customers to more effectively secure, share and manage spreadsheets on the server and allow them to be viewed via a Web browser or downloaded to the desktop.

The inclusion of BI in Excel is an obvious strategic choice for Microsoft: IDC said Excel has been the most widely used end-user tool for BI. It has also been the most difficult to deploy for Web-based collaboration and computing.

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