Microsoft is to fold its business process management (BPM) software, PerformancePoint Server, into its popular SharePoint Server product.

First released in September 2007, PerformancePoint Server 2007's features will in future be available via client access licenses of the enterprise version of SharePoint Server, said Kurt DelBene, senior vice-president of Microsoft's Office Business Group, in a statement on the company's website.

PerformancePoint helps managers budget, forecast, and measure profits and efficiency. It competed with software from IBM, Infor, Oracle, SAP AG and SAS Institute , as well as offerings from business intelligence (BI) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors.

The market for BPM software and services is expected to grow an average of 13 percent per year until 2012, to $3.24 billion (approx £2.26 billion), according to Forrester Research.

Microsoft does not have a history of cutting and running on new products. Rather, it is known for doggedly releasing new, refined versions until the software gains market traction.

Business Intelligence product manager Kristina Kerr Microsoft's closure of PerformancePoint was unrelated to the layoffs it made last week, as it began reviewing the software's performance seven months ago.

"We weren't playing to our strengths, and consequently were running into the same glass ceiling of 20 percent deployment that every other BI vendor is," Kerr told Computerworld.

"We thought there was a much better way to achieve our goal of 'BI for the masses,' which is to make these features a seamless part of how they already work with SharePoint, SQL Server or Excel."

Kerr did say that with the "economy being what it is, customers want to do more with less, and make the most out of their IT investments."

Microsoft's move should make the total cost of using PerformancePoint lower, said Kerr. Formerly, to get started with PerformancePoint Server cost $50,000 - $20,000 for the license (PDF document), another $30,000 to let users create scorecards, plus a $195 license fee for every employee using PerformancePoint.

By comparison, a license for Office SharePoint Server 2007 costs $4,424, while enterprise licenses, which offer features in addition to PerformancePoint, will cost a total of $169 per employee.

Microsoft still plans to ship Service Pack 3 for PerformancePoint Server 2007 this summer, including new planning features.

Microsoft is holding its SOA & Business Process Conference in Redmond this week, at which it is expected to unveil its BizTalk Server 2009 enterprise connectivity software.