Microsoft Azure cloud-hosted CRM 5 delivered first, then software

Last month, Microsoft officials said both the on-premises and the online versions of CRM 5 would debut before the end of calendar 2010. But they didn’t delve into which of the two releases would roll out first.

Via a tweet on May 5 from Directions on Microsoft analyst Rob Helm, I learned that Microsoft is promising to deliver the CRM 5 Online service release before it delivers the CRM 5 software.

Though both products are built on the same code base, CRM 5 Online is still on track to ship late this year, but the on-premises version won’t be available until 2011, Helm said.

“Exchange Server 2010 got its out-of-town tryout as a service — the Live@edu e-mail service for educational institutions was apparently running that version before it was available to customers. However, this will be the first time I’m aware of that Microsoft has started running a version of its software in its commercial hosted services before it was ready to ship that version to customers,” Helm said. “It’s an interesting step forward for Microsoft’s cloud strategy, as well as a sign how of how seriously Microsoft takes Salesforce.com,” he added.

“CRM5 will be available late 2010 beginning with Online in 32 markets and 41 languages, followed by the on-premises version.”

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a multi-lingual Customer Relationship Management software package developed by Microsoft. Out of the box, the product focuses mainly on Sales, Marketing and Service (helpdesk) sectors but Microsoft has been marketing Dynamics CRM as an XRM platform and have been encouraging partners to use its proprietary (but .NET based) framework to customise it to meet many different demands.

Dynamics CRM is a server-client application which, like Microsoft SharePoint is primarily an IIS-based web application which has extensive web services interfaces. Clients access Dynamics CRM either by using Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 or later web browser or by a thick client plug-in to Microsoft Outlook. While other browsers may be used to access Dynamics, results can be mixed and are not supported by Microsoft.

Microsoft is planning to roll out the cloud-hosted version of its Dynamics CRM 5 product ahead of its on-premises software version of that product. In fact, there's talk the software version won't be available until 2011, instead of 2010, as promised

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