According to an article in The New York Times Microsoft has set a goal to bring Business Intelligence to one billion users. Presumably this is going to occur with their Power BI tool which begins rolling out today according to the same article. The new Power BI is clearly aimed at the enterprise market (as evidenced by the confusing list of pricing and prerequisites shown above). Supposedly this is Satya Nadella’s last big project before assuming the CEO role at Microsoft.
Power BI offers ways to move all kinds of data into and out of Excel’s rows and columns, both from corporate databases and from other data sources that Microsoft has gathered by crawling the web, and ways to clean it up so the numbers can work reliably. Public data is stored in Azure, which also serves as a link to proprietary data that corporate customers can look up from the field.
Microsoft is known for software whose primary purpose is to “sell the stack”. In other words to use one additional new piece of Microsoft software there are one ore more prior pieces of Microsoft software or technology which must be used. This works great in the enterprise where most companies are already paying the heavy annual Microsoft tax for maintenance and support plans. I’m not sure it plays so well in consumer land — or that Microsoft will ever be able to keep up with competitors in consumer.