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Microsoft Details Pricing, Availability Of Hosted CRM Apps

Microsoft unveils availability and pricing for Dynamics Live CRM at its Worldwide Partner Conference.

CRM

The company also plans to disclose pricing for the Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM hosted software: $39 per user per month for a Professional version as an introductory price through 2008, increasing to $44 per user per month in 2009. An Enterprise version, which will add offline data synchronization capabilities, will have a price tag of $59 per user per month, according to Brad Wilson, general manager of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Channel partners that resell the Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM hosted by Microsoft will get 10 percent of that subscription license fee annually as long as the customer remains on the system, Wilson says.

The announcements are centered on Titan, the next generation of Microsoft Dynamics CRM software the Redmond, Wash., software giant is fielding to compete against such CRM suppliers as NetSuite, Oracle, Sage, Salesforce.com and SAP. In addition to an on-premise version of the application, Microsoft for the first time will be offering versions that are hosted by Microsoft within its own data centers or hosted by channel partners and third-party companies. Channel partners will have the option of selling the software all three ways, along with building a range of implementation, integration and consulting services around them. "Our partners have multiple ways to make money in this environment," Wilson says.

Some solution providers say the hosted version of the CRM application will provide them with more sales options when working with small businesses -- say, those with 25 to 50 seats -- that may lack Microsoft's SQL Server database and other supporting IT systems. "This will allow us to sell to companies who wouldn't buy before because they didn't have the infrastructure," says Mike Snyder, a principal with Sonoma Partners, a Chicago solution provider that works with Microsoft's CRM applications.

But some partners have raised concerns that CRM applications hosted by Microsoft could compete with channel partners. In a keynote speech at the partner conference Monday, Klaus Holse Andersen, corporate vice president in charge of Microsoft Dynamics sales and operations, acknowledged those worries and pointed out that early access for customers to the hosted and on-premise CRM software would be available only through channel partners.

The early access program, which allows partners and customers to try out new Microsoft products at no charge, will begin in the current quarter and extend through the end of 2007. Only the Professional version will be available on an early-access basis. Both the Professional and Enterprise versions will be generally available in early 2008.

During a Q&A session following Andersen's keynote, one solution provider asked about the future of the CRM functionality in Microsoft Dynamics AX and NAV -- two of Microsoft's four ERP application sets -- given the emphasis on Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Krause promised that Microsoft would continue developing those CRM feature sets for the foreseeable future given their tight integration with the other AX and NAV applications.

Still, resellers say there's a lot to like in the new CRM product. The on-premise, Microsoft- and partner-hosted versions of Dynamics Live CRM use the same code base. That allows small businesses to use the hosted version and then easily switch to the on-premise version as the company grows. Or one division within a company may want a hosted solution while another wants packaged applications, says Ryan Toenies, CRM solutions vice president at Inetium, a Minneapolis VAR that works with Microsoft's Dynamics CRM and SharePoint.

Another big selling point will be the native integration both the hosted and on-premise versions of the product have with Microsoft Outlook. "That's what's really cool," Toenies says. The product will also be browser-accessible. And the application's new multi-lingual and multi-currency features, support for multi-tenant architectures and improved support for Internet-facing deployments will appeal to the kind of big companies that traditionally turn to Oracle and SAP, Snyder says.

Toenies, Snyder and other Microsoft channel partners say that when selling the CRM application as a hosted service they will likely leave the actual hosting chores to Microsoft, given the high capital costs of building their own data centers.

Microsoft is expected to outline new partner initiatives around its Dynamics product, including a new certification program for ISVs that build apps on top of Dynamics. And the first 250 certified ISV partners will get up to $10,000 in co-marketing funds, says Barbara Edson, Microsoft Dynamics director. And additional funding for recruiting and training employees will be announced.

Microsoft is also expected Tuesday to unveil free templates that channel partners and customers can use to tailor the Dynamics CRM applications for vertical industries. The first templates, including screen layouts, workflows and data models, will cover manufacturing companies and the public sector. They can be used with both the current Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 release and the upcoming Titan release.

Also Tuesday Microsoft will unveil Microsoft Dynamics Entrepreneur, a version of Dynamics NAV designed for companies with fewer than 50 employees. The software will be available later this year in Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and the U.K. priced at 795 euros per user. U.S. availability hasn't been disclosed.

And Microsoft will unveil Dynamics AX Mobile Sales, a client application that will allow users to access back-end sales and order-entry data in Dynamics AX. Available immediately, the product will be priced at $495 per mobile client.

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