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Microsoft Reporting to Ship in a Visual Studio Control

Microsoft will make part of its new enterprise reporting technology available as a Visual Studio control that can be embedded in applications.

Although the technology comes out of SQL Server Reporting Services, reports developed for the Visual Studio control won't require a connection to a SQL Server, or a license for one. Microsoft plans to deliver the tool in 2005 when it releases SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005.

SQL Server Reporting Services was released in January, and it is a free download for SQL Server 2000 customers. The technology for designing, generating and distributing reports for enterprise use is part of Microsoft's ongoing effort to deepen the business intelligence stack offered through SQL Server.

Third-party or in-house applications built to embed the new control would take advantage of the report-building, data connectivity and graphics and GUI capabilities Microsoft built into its reporting solution. "No one knows your app is using SQL Server Reporting Services," says Tom Rizzo, director of product management for SQL Server.

Reports deployed through the Visual Studio control won't be able to handle back-end tasks that SQL Server Reporting Services can take care of. They include notification and distribution of reports, snapshots of reports for archiving and caching of reports for scalability.

Because of the way Microsoft has developed Reporting Services, however, a report is developed the same way in Visual Studio, whether it is intended for the control or the full server. The report is then deployed either in the control or on a SQL Server. Customers who later decide that reports deployed in a control need more scalability or functionality can redeploy the report on a server without rewriting it.

Microsoft has not decided on its licensing strategy for the control, but the company appears to be leaning toward a model that encourages the widest distribution. "We're looking at making it freely redistributable," Rizzo said. Under that model, ISVs that embed the control in their applications wouldn't have to pay a royalty to Microsoft for each sale.

About the Author

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

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