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Microsoft Adds ActiveViews to Free SQL Reporting Services Add-On

Microsoft gave users another reason to download its free SQL Server Reporting Services add-on when it acquired small, privately held ActiveViews.

Actually, “small” in this context is something of a misnomer: With five employees, ActiveViews is downright tiny. Nevertheless, it does offer a Web-based report authoring and end-user query tool based on Microsoft’s .NET framework—and designed to exploit SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services.

Microsoft officials position Reporting Services as a one-stop shop to create, manage, and publish ad hoc and production reports. The company expects that Reporting Services will find favor beyond report developers and the traditional consumers of their reports. The software giant hopes to leverage the ubiquity of its Visual Studio .NET development environment —- and its strong integration with SQL Server 2000 and the SQL Server BI stack—to bring reporting functionality to rank-and-file developers who already feel at home in the Visual Studio .NET IDE.

With the acquisition of ActiveViews last week, it appears that Microsoft may be setting its sights on a different constituency altogether —- business users with very little, if any, development expertise.

"There is a significant amount of data out there and an increasing need for every employee to have access to that data to make decisions,” said Bill Baker, general manager for business intelligence at Microsoft, in a statement. "[W]e believe that by incorporating this functionality within the business intelligence capabilities of SQL Server, Microsoft will provide a more complete BI solution than has been offered in the industry before."

At this point, however, Microsoft has said very little about just how it plans to incorporate ActiveViews and its assets—although it’s likely that the company’s technology will find its way into a Microsoft-branded end-user query and report authoring tool, complete with drag-and-drop capabilities, that’s more suitable for average business users than the Visual Studio .NET IDE.

This isn’t the only time Microsoft has tweaked Reporting Services since first announcing the free SQL Server 2000 add-on in January. Early last month, for example, the software giant announced a new Visual Studio control that’s designed to exploit the report-building, data connectivity, graphics, and GUI capabilities of Reporting Services.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.

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