These are pretty common questions that keep popping up when I work with folks. So.... some answers...

SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services - what is new? We are adding new functionality for Reporting Services in SQL Server 2005 - some of the changes are at the level of addressing the "niggly" bits and some much more significant. Two worth calling out are (1) the addition of a MDX Designer to allow reporting against cubes and (2) a new report designer targeting end users - Report Builder. More on Report Builder later. One of the tricky bits that early adopters are faced with right now is.... Beta 2 of SQL Server 2005 contains a version of Reporting Services with pretty much nothing new in it compared to the version we released for SQL Server 2000. This will change with Beta 3.

Active Views - what happened to it? When we released Reporting Services we included an excellent designer for developers to build reports (an add-in for VS.NET) BUT we didn't include a designer which end users could use. So ... other companies created solutions to address this, one such company being Active Views Inc from Utah. In April 2004 we acquired this company and set about working out how to take their technology forward.

Report Builder - what is it? We have taken the technlogy from the Active Views Inc acquisition and are using it as the foundation of an additional designer for Reporting Services which will ship with SQL Server 2005 - Report Builder. This designer will target end users. The plan is to include it in Beta 3 of SQL Server 2005.

So hopefully that clears it up a little. Oh, nearly forgot one more common question...

So, until Report Builder comes along, what are our options for end users who wish to design reports? There are two options - create your own designer (which isn't as hard as it sounds as it simply needs to spit out an XML file which contains valid RDL - check out the programmers guide) OR find a third party alternative. There is a list of partners at http://www.microsoft.com/sql/reporting/partners/softwareapps.asp and I would call out http://www.cizer.com who make Cizer Quick Query and Cizer Report Builder. You can try out Quick Query online at http://product.cizer.net/QuickQuery.