Microsoft Set to Provide Hosted CRM

Building they say on the market success of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0, Microsoft has announced the roadmap for the next major release of its Microsoft Dynamics CRM products, including a new software-as-a-service offering called Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live.

CRM Live service will be operated and managed by Microsoft within its Windows Live datacenters, and will offer Microsoft’s partners another fast and flexible way to address the CRM needs of each customer. The product will use the same code base as the on-premise and partner-hosted versions, a strategy that reinforces Microsoft’s leadership in allowing customers to choose the best deployment option for their business and IT needs at any time.

The full range of Microsoft CRM products is part of Microsoft’s vision for business — the People-Ready Business — and the new Microsoft CRM Live service will be integrated with Microsoft’s Windows Live services and Office Live services.

Microsoft confirmed that Microsoft Dynamics CRM continues to enjoy extremely rapid growth across all segments, geographic regions and industries, and has added more than 50,000 new users in the most recent quarter. The current version of Microsoft CRM is completing its international language rollout, including a May launch in China and a launch this quarter in Japan. At its Worldwide Partner Conference 2006 in Boston last week, Microsoft also demonstrated a new open-source client for mobile devices that will be available in August and reconfirmed its plans to release a new Microsoft BizTalk Server-based integration this quarter that will connect Microsoft CRM to enterprise resource planning (ERP) and CRM applications from other vendors such as Siebel Systems Inc., SAP AG and Oracle Corp.

“We believe in the power of software plus services, and today’s introduction of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live is another example of our delivering against that vision,” said Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division at Microsoft. “Microsoft CRM Live will provide a software-as-a-service option for deploying our leading CRM solution and will also afford partners new opportunities to deliver their value-added services.”

Expanded Opportunities for Partners
According to the company, with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live, new and existing partners will be able to easily develop and deploy pre-packaged solutions for their customers, just as they can in the on-premise and partner-hosted versions of Microsoft CRM today. Because the Microsoft CRM Live service will share the same meta-driven configuration tools that are used in all versions of Microsoft CRM, partners will be able to develop pre-packaged applications once and deploy them across any of the three deployment options. With Microsoft CRM, partners can work with each customer to choose the right deployment option at any time, with the ability to move across deployment options when and if required.

“Microsoft Dynamics CRM allows us to deliver CRM solutions that our customers rely on to provide consistently superior service to their customers,” said Mike Snyder, principal for Sonoma Partners LLC. “The new Microsoft CRM Live service will give us even more flexibility in how we address our customers’ business and IT requirements.”

Value for Customers
With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, customers get roles-based CRM capabilities for every member of the organisation, all within a native Microsoft Office and Outlook user experience. Both partner-hosted Microsoft CRM and the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live continue this approach, allowing users to access the system from a rich Outlook client, from a zero-footprint browser client, and from a wide range of mobile devices. The new Microsoft CRM Live service will allow a rich level of configurability in the user interface, in the application tier and at the database level, all without requiring any code to be written.

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