A week ago Microsoft announced Performance Point Server 2007. This product contains scorecard, planning and analytics software, and complements the functionality in Excel and in its SQL Server Analysis and Reporting Services tools. With Proclarity also within the Microsoft fold now, it is clear that Microsoft is serious about extending its reach in the BI market.
I have argued for some time that rivals Cognos and Business Objects should be a lot more worried about Microsoft than about each other in the long term. Most business users prefer an Excel-centric environment to do their analysis, and as Microsoft adds more and more ways into this it will be increasingly uncomfortable for the pure-play reporting vendors. As ever, Microsoft will go for high volume and low price, so will probably never match BO or Cognos in functionality, but that is not the point. Most users only take advantage of a fraction of the features of a BI tool anyway.
Microsoft is playing a long game here, and the pure-play tools will continue to do well in what is an expanding market. But the ratchet just got tightened another notch.