Microsoft Ships CTP of Office BI Server

Microsoft announced Tuesday it is shipping the first community technology preview (CTP) of a new business intelligence tool dubbed PerformancePoint server.

First announced in June, Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 aims to provide what the company calls "a complete performance management application including business scorecarding, analytics and planning ... including budgeting and forecasting." (See "Microsoft Clarifies 'BI' Roadmap," June 7, 2006.)

Microsoft plans to make PerformancePoint server a key monitoring point for businesses, where all of their corporate information -- from unstructured Word documents and PowerPoint presentations to Excel spreadsheets, SQL data, business metrics and other information -- can be examined and analyzed within a common context or dashboard.

Basically, that puts PerformancePoint on schedule for the previously announced mid-2007 shipment. One change, however, is that originally the company had planned a formal beta by the end of fall in about two weeks. Instead, the PerformancePoint organization chose to switch to a CTP-driven test cycle, because they feel that it gets more committed testers involved in the development lifecycle.

The next CTP will be released early in 2007, sometime in the first quarter, according to Microsoft statements. With that CTP, the company will begin to introduce the analytic functionality it acquired when it bought out Proclarity earlier this year. (See "Microsoft Acquires BI Software Maker ProClarity," April 3, 2006.)

Microsoft will release one or two more CTPs during the spring. Over time, the company plans for releases beyond version 1 include building out horizontally, into areas such as sales and operations planning, human workforce planning and sales and marketing planning.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services,, and .NET magazines. Contact him at [email protected].