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Microsoft squares up to Salesforce.com with new CRM marketplace

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14th Jul 2010
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Microsoft has announced details about the next version of its CRM software - and also revealed that it will square up to SaaS rival Salesforce.com by opening an online CRM apps marketplace.

On the opening day of its Worldwide Partner conference earlier this week, the software giant announced that it would rename its formerly code-named CRM5 product as Dynamics CRM 2011.

The upgrade has been in private beta testing for the last few months, but a public beta will also be released in September. Unusually, Microsoft has announced that it is to ship the online version of the offering by the end of the year before the on-premise edition.

From their Dynamics CRM 2011 software, customers will be able to access the vendor’s new Dynamics Marketplace, which will sell third party add-on components and applications to its CRM and ERP packages. This will be available from September.

The "online catalogue" is intended to provide partners with an easy way to market and distribute their applications, the vendor said. But it will also enable customers to "quickly search, discover and apply industry-specific applications and solution extensions from Microsoft and its partners to help them accelerate and extend their CRM and ERP implementations" it added.

To date, customers have had to use the supplier’s Solution Finder search tool to find third party vendors that sold add-ons, but were unable to download and buy them directly online.

Rival CRM SaaS supplier Salesforce.com has offered a similar service to the Dynamics Marketplace in the shape of its AppExchange store for some years. The store currently sells more than 1,000 components and applications.

Salesforce.com's vice president of strategy EMEA, Tim Barker, was unimpressed by Microsoft's announcement. "Microsoft has once again done what they are best at in the internet space: arriving late to the party and validating what the market already knows," he said."The ‘new’ Microsoft CRM App Store aims to copy some of the true innovations that are already seeing massive adoption by partners and customers alike, such as the iPhone App Store and the salesforce.com AppExchange."

Elsewhere, Dynamics CRM 2011 will boast enhanced Microsoft Outlook functionality including a new contextual CRM Ribbon for Outlook while on the analytics side, users of the new version will be able to create and share inline charts with drill-down intelligence. Multiple real-time business performance dashboards will also feature, along with key performance and business health indicators that track against goals and metrics.

"Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 will further deliver ‘The Power of Productivity’ through familiar, intelligent and connected experiences for customers and partners," said Brad Wilson, general manager of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. "For customers, it offers new levels of user productivity and collaboration that meet their specific business needs with a low total cost of ownership. For partners, it unlocks new opportunities and provides a single development environment for cloud-based and on-premise deployments. Together, this new release raises the bar in the CRM market."

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