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Brief: Microsoft Appears To Finally Have Its Heart In CRM As A Service

The version it will offer late this year is geared to better delivery in the software-as-service model.
Microsoft is at last getting serious about offering CRM as a subscription service, but it won't be available until the third quarter.

The release, code-named Titan, represents Microsoft's first big push into enterprise software as a service. Businesses can get hosted Microsoft CRM through partners, but now the company plans to directly sell an offering it will call Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live. It's based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0, built with what Microsoft describes as a multitenant architec-ture. That lets different customers use the software on the same server, making it more practical for software-as-service deployments.

Before the release, Microsoft is giving the software to about 1,300 partners; it's particularly courting developers who it hopes will build industry-specific apps, software-service mashups, and integration connectors around its CRM. If they do, it could help Microsoft play catch-up to Salesforce.com, the CRM-as-service leader.

Microsoft maintains a neutral stance on on-premises software versus software as a service. But having entered the CRM market four years ago, Microsoft finally appears to be putting its heart into the service option.