Microsoft is building a touch- and speech-enabled business intelligence tool

Microsoft is turning from incubation to reality a touch- and speech-enabled business intelligence product, currently known as InfoNavigator.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

It's no secret Microsoft is looking for ways to bring touch and speech input into more of its products as part of its natural-user-interface (NUI) push. But it's not as well-known how these technologies will manifest in new products from Redmond.


Microsoft's SQL Server Business Intelligence unit does have a concrete plan to bring touch and speech input to a still-unannounced product. That product is known as InfoNavigator.

InfoNavigator, according to a Microsoft job posting for a software development engineer in test, was an incubation project funded by Chairman Bill Gates' office, which is now "transforming into a reality."

Here's how the job posting describes the coming InfoNavigator product:

"Imagine a product that combines the lightning-fast performance of the VertiPaq analytics engine, the amazing data visualizations of PowerView, and the next generation of user experiences powered by natural language, touch and speech to enable a rich information navigation experience that is seamlessly integrated with our customer’s existing enterprise assets."

For those less-than-conversant with Microsoft's business-intelligence (BI) offerings, here's a decoder:

VertiPaq was the name for the SQL Server Analytics Services (SSAS) engine available to PowerPivot, either as part of Excel or Sharepoint 2010, which originally shipped along with SQL Server 2008 R2. VeriPaq was renamed “the xVelocity in-memory analytics engine," or “xVelocity," for short. It's now also referred to as the column store index feature in SQL Server 2012 that was codenamed "Apollo."

Power View is Microsoft's ad-hoc visualization experience in SQL Server Reporting Services. It enables data visualization, as well as collaboration and sharing of insights from that data via SharePoint. (If you really want to know all about Power View, check out this slide deck from my ZDNet colleague Andrew Brust.)

The coming InfoNavigator tool fits in with Microsoft's big-data analysis focus inside the Server and Tools organization, as it (at least in theory) will help users to analyze vast quantities of data, gain business insights from it and consumer these insights using rich visualizations. The job post touts "(W)e are right now in the Golden Age of Microsoft BI."

It's hard to tell how far along work on InfoNavigor is at this point. But the job posting calls for someone to join "a startup team" to help work on "early design and execution of our game-changing V1 release."

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