A panel of IT managers who are running Microsoft Corp.’s CRM applications said lasts week that the first release was a good start. But some added that they have hit performance and connectivity bumps.

Microsoft CRM, which began shipping early last year, was relatively simple to roll out and has been stable, said users who spoke during a forum at Microsoft’s Convergence 2004 conference.

But the start-up process hasn’t been trouble-free, they said. For instance, Rick Shrum, director of IT for the Seattle SuperSonics and Storm basketball teams, said linking Outlook clients to Version 1.0 of the CRM software over his WAN and synchronizing data was a very slow process.

Shrum said Outlook works better with Version 1.2 of the software, which was released in December and includes a fast synchronization feature.

Workers at Designer Doors Inc.’s 15 remote sales offices also are having some problems with Microsoft CRM 1.0, said Michael Kruger, information systems manager at the River Falls, Wis.-based door maker. The salespeople connect to the software via a virtual private network but are unable to access CRM data on their PCs when they go off-line. Microsoft’s technical support team has tried without success to resolve the problem, Kruger said.

Microsoft CRM 1.0 was “very strong” for a new code base, said Douglas Burgum, president of Microsoft’s Business Solutions unit. Version 1.2 improved the software’s stability and performance, he said, adding that Version 2.0 is due within the next 12 months.