Microsoft CRM 3.0 Gets a Preview

Microsoft took advantage of two conferences in the last week to provide an early look at Microsoft CRM 3.0, the follow-on to Microsoft CRM 1.2.

Microsoft CRM is the company's foray into customer relationship management and is targeted at small to midsize organizations.

Microsoft put the spotlight on the product at its TechEd 2005 Europe show in Amsterdam last week and at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Minneapolis over the weekend.

The product's 4,000 existing customers will have access to Microsoft CRM 3.0 in the fourth quarter of this year after a scheduled release to manufacturing in October. Widespread availability is slated for next year.

Key areas of focus in the upgrade are configuration, customization and integration capabilities. A new Small Business Edition is also on tap specifically for users of Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 Premium Edition.

For the first time with release 3.0, Microsoft will offer subscription-based licensing for customers looking for a hosted offering. The same code is used in both models, making it possible for customers to change their minds later and switch to on-site deployment or vice versa.

Microsoft is aiming for a more global reach with Microsoft CRM 3.0. While version 1.2 is available in 16 languages, CRM 3.0 will be offered in 23 languages. Most languages will be available within 90 days of the initial release.

About the Author

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