Microsoft tailors Dynamics CRM for Office 2007

Microsoft Corp. will release a new version of its Dynamics CRM (customer relationship management) software with functions that mesh with its forthcoming Vista OS and Office 2007 software, the company said Tuesday.

Microsoft also detailed a new licensing arrangement, where Dynamics CRM will be added on Dec. 4 to the same price list as its Dynamics Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software suite. The move will simplify how customers order CRM and other products in the Dynamics line, Microsoft said. Dynamics CRM will still be available through volume licensing channels.

The company’s Dynamics product group is responsible for a range of back-end business applications, including supply chain and financial applications. The product group, formerly known as Microsoft Business Solutions, came from a string of acquisitions that thrust Microsoft into the midmarket business software arena.

By 2008, Microsoft plans to complete a process to mesh all ERP and CRM Dynamics into a single code base.

Dynamics CRM will be available when Office 2007 is released. Microsoft said Dynamics CRM will have better data visualization capability, tapping the Excel 2007 spreadsheet. Other improvements include integration of Vista gadgets — small notification programs that sit on the desktop and display alerts — with Dynamics CRM.

The new version will also have new functions linked to Microsoft’s Exchange Server 2007. For example, voice-mail messages can be stored in Outlook and tracked within CRM.

Microsoft previously said it will introduce a Live version of CRM in the second quarter of 2007, aimed at businesses with up to 10 users. That version will be hosted by Microsoft. CRM is offered as a hosted service by its partners and as on-premise software.

This week, Microsoft is also adding the Dynamics ERP suite to its Subscription Licensing Model. Dynamics ERP includes the applications Dynamics AX (Axapta), Dynamics GP (Great Plains), Dynamics NAV (Navision) and Dynamics SL (Solomon).

Through its partners, Microsoft will let customers either license the applications or subscribe to hosted versions of them or do a combination of both.

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