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Microsoft Launches SaaS Push with Dynamics CRM 4.0 Release

Microsoft CRM 4.0 should be hitting the shelves -- virtual or otherwise -- by year’s end. The product, aka Titan, released to manufacturing on Dec. 14, according to this post.

Many observers characterize this version, formally known as Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 as the flagship offering for Microsoft's software-plus-services strategy in that the same code base underlies the on-premise, partner-hosted and Microsoft-hosted implementations.

"This is a true Software as a Service platform now and will change the way Microsoft addresses the market," said Andy Vabulas, CEO of IBIS Inc., an Atlanta-based Microsoft Gold partner. IBIS plans to host and sell on-premise installations, he said.

John Hendrickson, CEO of InterDyn Business MicroVAR, said this iteration will help Microsoft and its partners compete more effectively with Salesforce.com's hosted CRM product. "We like the 'live' and hosted scenarios because they give us more options to talk to customers about. I can do any of these although I expect the vast majority of customers will still opt for on-premise," Hendrickson noted.

The Microsoft-hosted option will be known by the "Live" moniker that covers the Windows Live and Office Live services offerings. While the partner-hosted and on-premise versions should be available for download by the end of this week, the Microsoft-hosted CRM version will be broadly available in the first half of next year. Early access customers have been testing out that software for some months now.

With CRM 4.0, the company hopes to prove that it can play a major role in the SaaS revolution pioneered by Salesforce.com, Webex and Google.

Microsoft's stance has been that it must deliver features and functions in the way most palatable to customers. It has remained publicly mum, however, on when and if it will launch a Microsoft-hosted ERP solution along the lines of NetSuite's service. Company executives have told partner sources in the past that Microsoft-hosted ERP will happen. Partners can already host the company's ERP lines.

A few weeks ago Microsoft posted a beta of Office Live Workspaces, "cloud-based" services to complement the company's market-leading Office desktop applications. Office itself remains an on-premise-only option.

About the Author

Barbara Darrow is Industry Editor for Redmond Developer News, Redmond magazine and Redmond Channel Partner. She has covered technology and business issues for 20 years.

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