A Brief History of PowerPivot
PowerPivot’s history started with two internal Microsoft papers by Amir Netz in 2006, who was then an Architect in the SQL Server Analysis Team.
The first paper introduced the concept of a BI “sandbox,” which was conceived as a product that would allow BI applications to be created in a much easier way—in a controlled environment that would include relational databases, multidimensional databases, and a reporting tool. While the paper helped to shape PowerPivot from concept to product, many of the original ideas changed. For example, in the original paper, Microsoft Access was the client application, not Excel, but nevertheless, many of Netz’s ideas formed the essence of PowerPivot.
The second paper was about an in-memory BI engine. The business idea was to take advantage of the market trends in computer hardware (such as reduced RAM prices and increased adoption of multi-core processors) that would allow this in-memory engine to be feasible. In fact, the in-memory engine would make some of the ideas in the first paper possible.
Eventually, Microsoft created a small incubation team to explore the ideas in the papers. This incubation team spent the SQL Server 2008 R2 development cycle writing specifications, plans, code, and tests for the product that eventually became PowerPivot. PowerPivot for Excel 2010 and PowerPivot for SharePoint, currently in their first version, were released in May 2010 as part of the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 release.