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Dynamics CRM 2015 Coming in Fourth Quarter

Microsoft will release the next major update to Dynamics CRM, previously code-named "Vega," sometime in the fourth quarter of 2014, the company announced on Tuesday.

The Q4 release will comprise the next on-premises version of the product, called Dynamics CRM 2015, as well as an update to Dynamics CRM Online to maintain feature-parity with the on-premises version. The release will bring tighter integration with Office 365 (including Power BI for Office 365), SharePoint, Lync, Skype and Yammer, according to Microsoft's announcement

Dynamics CRM 2013, the current version of the product, was last updated in June with the "Spring '14 release." That update, previously code-named "Leo," saw the introduction of the Dynamics Marketing and Social Listening components, which were developed from technology that Microsoft acquired from its purchases of MarketingPilot and Netbreeze, respectively. Dynamics Marketing is a marketing-automation tool, while Social Listening tracks marketing data across social networks.

For the Q4 release, Dynamics Marketing will include a new "Sales Collaboration Panel," which lets salespeople collaborate with marketers on campaigns and customer-targeting efforts. It will also feature a new "Interactive Marketing Calendar," which gives marketers a graphical view of their project timelines (see figure). Microsoft is also adding A/B testing capabilities, as well as expanding Dynamics Marketing's language support to include Japanese and Russian.

The Dynamics Marketing update will be delivered as a manual update, according to the Dynamics CRM 2015 Release Preview Guide (.PDF), which offers more details about upcoming changes and new features.

[Click on image for larger view.] Interactive Marketing Calendar

The Social Listening tool -- which will be upgraded to the 2014 R2 version with the Q4 update, according to the Release Preview Guide -- will be updated to include the ability to track marketing data on news Web sites, as well as Italian language support.

The Q4 release will include other sales-oriented improvements. "For salespeople, in addition to providing the ability to more effectively collaborate with marketing, the new release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides the ability to bundle and recommend products for up-sell and cross-sell across product families, improving their selling effectiveness," Microsoft said in its announcement. "The new release enhances the Guided Sales Processes to help steer sellers toward desired outcomes and ensure the enforcement of business rules across all devices. New mobile sales capabilities across mobile platforms increase productivity with flexible RoleTailored dashboards and analytics, as well as personalized home pages."

Finally, Microsoft said it is continuing to expand the global availability of Dynamics CRM Online. In August, the service launched in 17 new countries. On Tuesday, Microsoft announced it has added another 17 countries to Dynamics CRM Online's roster, making it available in over 65 markets. The company expects to grow that number to 130 markets by year's end.

Dynamics CRM 2015 will not have support for certain older versions of Microsoft's database and server products, Microsoft said in a blog post in May. At the time, Microsoft said that after Dynamics CRM 2013 it would no longer support, among other products, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 R2, all versions of Windows Small Business Server, Internet Explorer 8 and Internet Explorer 9.

"Our current plan for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server is to target only Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2, and SQL Server 2012 for the next release time frame," Microsoft stated at the time.

This Microsoft support page keeps track of Dynamics CRM compatibility changes, though as of this writing it is current only up to Dynamics CRM 2013.

Microsoft has not detailed its Dynamics CRM roadmap beyond the Q4 update. However, a slide posted earlier this month by a Microsoft partner (and reposted by ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley here, as the original blog has since been taken down) indicated that Microsoft is planning to release another set of updates in Q2 2015. Dubbed the "spring wave" in the slide, the release will purportedly deliver more updates to Social Listening and Dynamics Marketing, as well as an update to the core Dynamics CRM product code-named "Carina."

Microsoft has not confirmed the roadmap described on the slide. In its Release Preview Guide, the company only said that it is working on several future releases for Dynamics CRM "with a commitment to an agile release cycle."

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for RCPmag.com and senior editor of AWSInsider.net.