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Microsoft CRM Ships

Microsoft made its highly anticipated move into the customer relationship management market on Tuesday with the North American launch of Microsoft CRM.

An outgrowth of Microsoft's purchase of Great Plains, Microsoft CRM is designed for mid-sized companies who may not have been able to afford the enterprise-focused CRM solutions offered by Siebel Systems and others.

The product, which was originally supposed to ship in 2002, will be available in the United States and Canada. Localized versions for other parts of the world are scheduled to appear in the second half of the year.

Microsoft is banking on getting a bump from user familiarity with Microsoft Outlook, which will be one of the interfaces for the product. Users will also be able to access Microsoft CRM via a browser.

Microsoft CRM is built on the Microsoft .NET infrastructure. According to the company, the .NET foundation will make it easier to connect to Web services-based credit checking, analytics and marketing automation services.

The product comes in two versions, a Standard Edition and a Professional Edition. The Standard version is designed for use as a stand-alone CRM offering. The Professional Edition allows for work-flow rules and customization and is designed for integration with enterprise resource planning and other back-office software.

The Standard Edition starts at $395 per user and $995 for the server. The Professional Suite Edition starts at $1,295 per user and $1,990 for the server. Microsoft partners are offering remote hosting of Microsoft CRM, as well.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.