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Microsoft Rolls out Dynamics CRM5 Community Technology Preview

Microsoft began leaking -- maybe even gushing -- details of Dynamics CRM5 back in late 2008, and today the customer relationship management suite took another step toward availability today.

Community Technical Preview 3 (CTP3) of Dynamics CRM5 is now available to a select group of partners. Microsoft officials said in a statement today that more than 400 partners of various stripes are participating in the program and that Microsoft will open the CTP to more partners in the months to come.

A company statement said CTP 3 is aimed mainly at software developers and that Dynamics CRM5 is due for general availability in the second half of 2010. The suite will continue to be available in three formats: on-premises, partner-hosted and hosted by Microsoft in a product known at Dynamics CRM online.

Microsoft officials said the company will continue to use the same code base across all three suites. In fact, the Redmond giant has been revealing details about CRM5 on its Dynamics CRM Team Blog as far back as late 2008, when Microsoft bloggers revealed enhancements that the product will include.

In particular, Microsoft's CRM team said that it is focusing on making it easier for ISVs and IT departments to manage deployment of third-party applications in the CRM suite. The blog mentions the possibility of allowing developers to write secure custom code on the server in Dynamics CRM Online. The Microsoft bloggers also indicated that improvements to user interfaces and increased capabilities for handling plug-ins and custom business logic are on the way.

Dynamics CRM's market share still pales in comparison to that of competitors such as SAP AG, Oracle Corp. and Salesforce.com Inc., according to the Gartner statistics that date up to 2008. But the economically priced suite has experienced strong growth in recent years, Gartner noted.     

About the Author

Lee Pender is Redmond Channel Partner magazine's senior editor. You can reach him at lpender@rcpmag.com.

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