Bringing the next major release of its customer relationship management application a step closer to market, Microsoft announced on Monday a September beta preview release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. The preview will be available both on-premise and on-demand.
Formerly code-named CRM5, the upgrade is said to provide a single development environment for both on-demand and on-premise deployments. That supports Microsoft's cloud-computing strategy of letting customers blend and change deployment approaches over time.
Microsoft says Dynamics CRM 2011 will deliver a familiar, intelligent and connected user experience. It will seem familiar in that it looks and feels like a Microsoft Office application, with a contextual CRM Ribbon for Outlook and browser clients that are consistent with Office navigation approaches. Users will also be able to customize the role-tailored interface.
"We've always had a roles-based approach where you could turn access to certain kinds of data on or off, but CRM 2011 provides much more granular control," said Brad Wilson, general manager of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The update will let users or administrators turn individual fields on or off, he said.
Dynamics CRM 2011 is described as intelligent in that it embeds multiple, real-time dashboards that change views as users explore and drill-down on data. Users can track key metrics and progress toward customizable targets and goals. The application also adds guided process dialogs that present users with prepared scripts based on rules that can be set for each interaction in a process.
Dynamics CRM 2011 is connected in that it is integrated with Microsoft SharePoint, whereby links to repositories can be embedded within and provisioned by the application. In addition, developers can deploy custom code within on-premise and on-demand deployments.
"We've always supported deep customization in on-premise deployments, but with this new release, you'll be able to build and run custom code in our data centers," Wilson said. Examples of supported code include Silverlight, .Net, Visual Studio and Windows Communication Foundation controls.
To better support the new release, Microsoft plans to launch a new Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace in September. The online catalog will offer industry-specific solutions and application extensions developed by Microsoft partners. Links to the Marketplace will be embedded within the application.
Come September, the Dynamics CRM 2011 beta will be available in 40 markets, including North America, Europe, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Chile and Colombia