Microsoft Unveils New Dynamics License To Expand ERP Use

The new Dynamics Office client license will enable companies to deploy business applications beyond hardcore ERP users at a fraction of the cost of a full ERP license. While long-time partner characterized this as an "ERP Lite" client, Microsoft said it will let users do more than just view ERP data.

It was not immediately clear how this client differed from the full ERP client, which typically sells for $2,000.

The base Dynamics Office client, which will work with Office 2007 and Office 2003, will cost $195 per user. A license that includes the full Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 client access license (CAL) runs $395.

News of the client, with the full name of Microsoft Dynamics Client for Microsoft Office, emerged at Microsoft's Convergence 2007 conference in San Diego. It is due in May.

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Full Dynamics ERP client licenses start at about $2,000 per user under the Redmond, Wash., software giant's six-month-old per-user pricing model.

The new client also brings to the licensee 12 self-service applications, including Time and Attendance for Dynamics GP, Project Time and Expense for Dynamics SL, Microsoft Dynamics Snap Business Data Lookup for Dynamics AX, and FRx WebPort and Drilldown Viewer, Microsoft said.

This new client could be a big deal for pure users of Office, said Jonathan Edmett, vice president of sales for Solutions Consulting Group, or SCG, a San Diego-based Microsoft ERP partner.

"Think of this as a superset of the apps you get in Duet plus a CAL to help you build any light user app to talk to Dynamics for the 85 percent of your users who don't have licenses for Dynamics," said James Utzchneider , general manager for Dynamics product marketing at Microsoft.

Duet is a product devised by Microsoft and SAP that lets Office front ends tap into SAP back-end ERP applications. That product was always a bone of contention among faithful Microsoft ERP partners, who felt that Microsoft should do a better job talking about how Office was already a good client for Microsoft ERP applications.

"A GP customer with 400 employees may license 20 seats to GP. This [new] license provides a low-cost way to build a planning or an HR application at $195 a seat," Utzchneider said.

GP refers to Microsoft Dynamics GP, formerly known as Great Plains, one of the four ERP lines.

Last year, Microsoft talked up more Dynamics-to-Office linkages at Tech Ed. The company also built several "Snap" applications for Dynamics AX (Axapta), which will now be available via the new client license.

At the show, Microsoft is also expected to talk up the next revs of ERP in the pipeline, including Dynamics Nav 5.0, due out this month, and Dynamics GP 10.0 and Dynamics SL 7, due out in June. Dynamics AX 4 shipped last summer.

Also at Convergence, Microsoft is slated to spotlight a new Certified for Microsoft Dynamics Solutions program.

Utzschneider said there are about 3,000 third-party applications on Dynamics now, and the certification test will be used by partners and ISVs to document the level of integration their work has with Dynamics.