Vice-president, Microsoft Corp.

Call it Microsoft Corp.’s five-year plan.

At its Convergence 2005 Microsoft Business Solutions forum in San Diego on March 7, company vice-president Doug Burgum told attendees that his company would extend to five years support of all Microsoft business solution products after their release.

Microsoft previously offered three years of support for its Business Solution offerings. We’re going to continue to pursue functionality in a deep, deep way.Doug Burgum>Text

“This gives you a sense of peace of mind in how you choose,” Burgum told attendees during a Monday morning keynote speech.

He also outlined Microsoft’s product roadmap for the future. The first wave of that plan is currently underway and will extend until 2007. During that time, the company will focus its business solutions software development in enabling what were described as role-based user experiences – an assumption that processes supported by Microsoft Business Solutions software should be built to cut across many different business areas, including finance, operations, sales and marketing, and IT.

Product innovation will focus on driving toward “common designs and common code” across all product lines, Burgum said. Among the major focuses in product development will be SharePoint-based portal and workflow applications, SQL-based contextual business intelligence and Web service-based composition and integration.

The Microsoft vice-president admitted his company will be hard pressed to keep pace with the functional demand of business customers who seek flexible and feature rich function that allows them to tailor solutions to the demands of business.

“How do we create software that works the way companies work? How do you blend the unstructured nature of things like email, with structured processes like finance, operations, sales and marketing and IT,” Burgum asked.

The answer lies in a range of upcoming product releases and a strategy for the future, which will, among other things, see tighter Microsoft Business Solutions product integration.

In further outlining a Microsoft Business Solutions product release roadmap for this first wave, Burgum revealed: a CRM release set for Q4 2005, and the release of Navision 5.0, Axapta 4.0 2006, Great Plains 9.0 and Solomon 7.0 during the first half of 2006. Wave 2 – from 2008 onward – will see Microsoft focus on creating a “model-driven” design process, which will include modular process configuration and enhanced Visual Studio.NET tools, as well as what Burgum characterized as an “enhanced user experience.”

“We’re going to continue to pursue functionality in a deep, deep way,” he said. “You need to have processes that rapidly adapt to the changing environment you work in. We want high adaptability at low cost and with rich function.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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