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, which has been beefing up its business intelligence capabilities, on Monday took another step in that direction, announcing the acquisition of privately held ProClarity.

Boise, Idaho-based ProClarity develops business analytics tools that Microsoft says will broaden its offerings for business intelligence software.

"This acquisition advances our (business intelligence) strategy and our ability to deliver performance management applications to customers," Jeff Raikes, Microsoft's business division president, said in a written statement.

Business intelligence software is used to cull information from corporate databases without having to resort to complex queries formulated by information technology professionals. Best-of-breed companies such as

Business Objects








dominate the sector, but


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and Microsoft have been bringing their considerable resources to bear on the problem.

Microsoft added business intelligence capabilities to the newest version of its SQL Database, and will add others to the upcoming release of Office 2007.

While Microsoft's BI tools now support data culled from rival databases, such as


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DB2 or Oracle, its support for SQL Server is more robust, said a Microsoft spokeswoman.