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Microsoft Crystallizes .NET Reporting Capabilities

Seagate Software Inc. and Microsoft Corp. announced today that Microsoft will bundle Seagate's Crystal Reports within its upcoming Visual Studio.NET toolset.

Crystal Reports, a popular report-building tool, has been bundled with Visual Basic since 1993. The new version that will result from the agreement, Crystal Reports for Visual Studio.NET, is designed to provide developers data visualization and analysis capabilities for Web applications. Crystal Reports will support various Visual Studio.NET features, including Web Services, Web Forms and Windows Forms.

Other new features include integration with all of the languages supported in Visual Studio, including Visual Basic, C# and C++. The product also includes XML support for sharing reports and information over the Web.

Some analysts see this agreement as a coupe for Seagate Software (www.seagatesoftware.com), which will extend its well-regarded Crystal Reports too to a new generation of developers. "The bundling of Crystal Reports with Visual Studio.NET is a major accomplishment for Seagate Software," says Mike Schiff, director of data warehousing strategies for Current Analysis (www.currentanalysis.com). He predicts that the bundling agreement "will quite likely serve as a catalyst for its quick adoption by the development community, thus sustaining its already ubiquitous presence."

Seagate sees this promise as well. "We've penetrated the desktop reporting market," says Tim Lang, director of strategic alliances at Seagate Software. ".NET technology will enable us to become the standard in enterprise reporting."

The product bundling also opens Crystal Reports to developers outside the Visual Basic world. "Our market is not just going to be Crystal Reports with Visual Basic, or C++," says Lang. "We're going to be able to leverage the more than 20 languages using Visual Studio .NET's common language runtime."

A Microsoft (www.microsoft.com) executive says this agreement enables "21st century report building." With Crystal Reports integrated into Visual Studio, developers will be able to "build Web reports in the same way they build Windows applications through rapid application development," says Dave Mendlen, lead product manager for Visual Studio at Microsoft. He calls Seagate a "poster child for what you can do with the .NET framework, to provide a seamless experience for developers."

A beta version of the toolkit will be shipping later this year, according to Microsoft's Mendlen. In the meantime, Visual Studio 6.0 developers can integrate Crystal Reports 8, Developer Edition, which was launched in February. Files generated from version 8 can be converted to Crystal Reports for Visual Studio.NET. - Joseph McKendrick

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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