Microsoft is due to release web metrics software that is expected to become a challenger to Google Analytics.

The company last night confirmed it was running a closed ‘alpha’ test phase for a “very limited’ number of our existing customers”.

Like Analytics before it, Microsoft’s product, codenamed Gatineau, is the result of an acquisition – it is named after the Canadian hometown of DeepMetrix Corporation, the maker of LiveSTATS.BIZ bought by the Redmond giant early last year.

“We hope to release this product during 2007,” wrote Ian Thomas from Microsoft’s digital advertising solutions group.

“However, we’re extremely keen to avoid a repeat of Google’s experience with Google Analytics, so we will be ramping up our user numbers gradually to make sure everyone has a good experience from a performance perspective.

“I can’t be very specific at all about the functionality we hope to deliver, but I can say that the target audience for this project is broadly similar to the target audience for Google Analytics – though it’s emphatically not our intention simply to replicate the functionality within that product.”

The roll-out of the rival tool from Mountain View, California, proved problematic as Google sought to integrate Urchin software with its systems. Previous reports cite Microsoft as pledging DeepMetrix software would figure in a revamped version of its adCenter suite.

Thomas also invited applications for beta testers.