UPDATE 10/21/13: Data Explorer is now called Power Query (download).
Think of Data Explorer as a self-service ETL tool for the Excel power user. The official title is now “Microsoft Data Explorer Preview for Excel”. It enhances the self-service Business Intelligence experience in Excel by simplifying data discovery and access. In short, you can quickly and easily import data from a variety of sources. It even has an Online Search which enables you to search the web for datasets.
With “Data Explorer” you can:
- Identify the data you care about from multiple sources (SQL Server, Windows Azure, Access, Oracle, IBM DB2, MySQL, SharePoint List, OData feed, Hadoop HDFS, Windows Azure Marketplace, Active Directory, Facebook, Web pages, Excel, text and XML files, Windows Azure HDInsight, Teradata, PostgreSQL)
- Discover relevant data using the search capabilities within Excel.
- Combine data from multiple, disparate data sources and shape it in order to prepare the data for further analysis in tools like Excel and PowerPivot.
I am looking forward to using Data Explorer as I believe this is a powerful tool that will enable users to pull in their own data without having to bug IT.