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Microsoft To Buy ProClarity

Microsoft's planned acquisition of ProClarity, revealed last week, delivers two things. For customers, it should mean an easier way to extract and view information from Microsoft's database. For business intelligence competitors, it sends a clear message that Microsoft wants a bigger piece of their market.

ProClarity develops data analysis and visualization software that works with Microsoft's SQL Server 2005 database and other applications. The software helps businesses build custom analytical apps, is integrated with Reporting Services, and can display data through Microsoft's SharePoint portal.

Ever since Microsoft built its Analysis Services data analysis tools into SQL Server in 1998, the big question hanging over independent business intelligence vendors is how much market share Microsoft could snare. But it has grabbed only a tiny share of the BI market, which IDC says will reach $5.1 billion this year.

The ProClarity acquisition, expected to close next month, marks one of Microsoft's biggest BI moves since 2004, when it built reporting capabilities, called Reporting Services, into SQL Server 2000.

ProClarity's Analytics Server augments Microsoft's Analysis Services, as well as the Business Scorecard Manager tool, built into SQL server 2005, for tracking key performance metrics. And next year's Office 2007 release will include Excel and SharePoint versions that deliver data to PCs from business applications. ProClarity works with those products.

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