Microsoft begins to fully realize its vision of SQL Server as an information platform and not "just" a database. Hence the main theme for this release -- at least according to Microsoft -- is self-service BI. The PowerPivot plug-ins for Excel 2010 and SharePoint 2010 are easily going to make the biggest splash of all the new features, not least because they're the most complete. But then, SQL Server 2008 R2 isn't strictly necessary for PowerPivot for Excel, which works with plenty of other data sources.
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