Microsoft has denied US reports that it has U-turned on the packaging policy for its Plato online analytical processing (Olap) software, which was intended to appear as a bundle with version 7.0 of its SQL Server database, codenamed Sphinx.
Plato is based on the Panorama Olap software that Microsoft acquired from the eponymous Israeli software provider earlier in the year, in a bid to dominate the data mart market.
But US reports allege that the software giant will not now sell Plato as an integrated element of SQL Server 7.0 as promised, offering common look-and-feel and the ability to pass data between the two, but as a standalone product, which considerably reduces its appeal.
Richard Hamblen, Microsoft?s middleware marketing manager, replied: ?We?ve said nothing about our shipment plans and we?ve not finalised our packaging plans either, so I can?t say whether Plato will be sold with or without Sphinx. Plato is being integrated with Sphinx, but they?ll be beta tested separately because they?re different products.?
But, Nigel Pendse, senior analyst at consultants, Business Intelligence, said the issue was more a marketing than a technical one and the decision to bundle the two products would depend on whether they were ready to ship at the same time. As a result, if Sphinx was later than expected, Microsoft would have to rethink how to bundle Plato.
He added that Plato was currently being alpha tested with ISVs, but that it could not go out to customers for beta testing yet because application programming interfaces - called OLEDB for Olap and codenamed Tensor - had not yet been finalised.
Beta 3 of Tensor was only published on 9 November, but version 1.0 was sufficiently different to have damaged the Microsoft automated test suite. Because software cannot be sent out to beta users without having been tested at all, Plato has been delayed by a couple of weeks.
Microsoft now expects it to go into beta in the first half of 1998.
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